Indian-American Orphan Woman Caught in Legal Tangle

Washington, May 25 (IANS): United States has acknowledged that an adopted Indian American woman who faces deportation thirty years after she came here has been caught in a legal tangle, but a solution was still not on the horizon.

"Prior to 2001, US immigration law did not provide for automatic acquisition of US citizenship for an adopted child," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Thursday when asked about the case of Kairi Abha Shepherd, who came to the US in 1982 as a three month old adopted infant.

"The adopting parents had to affirmatively apply or the child had to apply after 18," she said, "That has now changed."

"As of February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act provides that a foreign-born child of a US citizen, including an adopted child, acquires US citizenship automatically if, before reaching the age of 18, they are admitted as a lawful permanent resident of the United States and they are residing with and in the physical custody of that adopting parent."

"So this case unfortunately arose before that stipulation, but it wouldn't be the case were the child to have been adopted since February 27, 2001," Nuland said.

But when asked if the State Department was working on finding a solution, she said, "this is not a State Department matter at this stage. It's a Department of Homeland Security matter."

Nuland was also not aware whether the Indian Embassy or Indian Foreign Ministry had approached the US about the Shepherd case.

Meanwhile, breaking her silence Shepherd in a media statement denied she was in hiding or was trying to avoid the law and enforcement agencies of the US.

"Yes. I am afraid of being deported. Who wouldn't be in my condition? But I have never been in hiding or concealed my whereabouts. And I have no intention of absconding from the law."

Shepherd said she had directed her legal team, all of whom have volunteered pro bono to help her, "to cooperate with the immigration enforcement authorities in order to process and resolve my status in a manner that is orderly and fair for all concerned."

Thanking "all the wonderful people around the world who have taken my part and are attempting to block my deportation from the United States to India," she suggested that the Indian government "may deny the issuance of travel documents, thus preventing my forced departure from America."


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