Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Deportation

Reported by Hyphen Magazine:
A Korean woman in Arizona, who was adopted and brought to the US when she was eight months old, is facing deportation after a second conviction for theft, reports the Korea Times. The 31-year-old mother of three is currently being held in a federal detention center in Arizona.

According to officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Seo (not her real name) was first convicted on theft charges in 2008, for which she served a seven-month sentence. She was arrested on a second theft charge in 2009, and sentenced to a year-and-half in jail. In January, ICE initiated deportation proceedings against her, requesting for a travel certificate from the Korean consulate in Los Angeles.

Officials say the decision to deport the woman was based on the nature of her crimes and on the likelihood of repeat offenses. Current law stipulates that legal residents can be deported if they are convicted for crimes involving drugs, prostitution or other nefarious activities, or if they are sentenced to more than a year in prison.

The Korean consulate, meanwhile, has requested that the deportation decision be withdrawn for humanitarian reasons, citing the fact that the woman has never returned to her country of birth since her adoption, her inability to speak Korean and her three children, all of whom were born in the United States.


Kim said...

WHAT?! This makes no sense... and by the way, what happened with her adoptive parents that they didn't get her her U.S. citizenship certificate? There's no excuse for her not having U.S. citizenship!

Kim said...

p.s. I don't know HOW you stay on top of all these adoption-related news stories! What's your secret? You're amazing!

Bobbi Jo said...

That's just about the dumbest thing I've read in a while. Don't get it!?!

Sunday Koffron Taylor said...

Honestly, I had no idea that being adopted did not make you a citizen automatically. (I suppose I am not alone in that.) But even still deporting her under the circumstances seems ridiculous.

malinda said...

Since the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was enacted, an internationally adopted child is (almost) automatically a citizen. Prior to 2000, that wasn't the case. An adoptive parent had to file the paperwork for naturalization of the child before the child reached majority. After majority, the child (now adult) had to file for citizenship. The problem is that many of these now-adult children had no idea they weren't citizens.

So just like any other non-citizen who committed a crime in the U.S. their deportation was required.

It was these cases that motivated the passage of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, but the act did nothing to help those adopted prior to that time.

Steve said...

You think that she would have learned something after her first theft conviction.

malinda said...


Yep, she should have discovered that crime doesn't pay. But she wouldn't inevitably have found out her immigration status. . . .

joy said...

@ Steve

I am sure you only meant that comment in the most loving way and I am failing to recognize that.

Are you suggesting that children adopted without agency, taken to a new country and raised "as if" they were American citizens should be treated with simi-legal status?

I have no idea why this woman was convicted of these crimes, what motivated her, as I have never been convicted of crimes, due in a large part to my lack of need to commit crimes.

It may be my naivete but I feel strongly that if you are adopted, than you should be at least treated like a real citizen, whether or not you are an honest one.

How sad for this woman. Just goes to show you once again, "as if" isn't the same as "is"

Thank you for blogging on this Malinda.

joy said...

pls. forgive my typo

semi-lol-not simi

Steve said...

Actually, I am speaking in the most legal way. Under Arizona law, this woman would have been advised that her conviction could lead to deportation. If not, her attorney would be attacking the validity of her convictions rather than appealing for humanitarian relief.

Without more information, I cannot presume that this woman was unaware of her citizenship status. I wonder if this will be like the Tara Ammons Cohen case where you ultimately learn that the she did know about her lack of citizenship but chose to do nothing about it.

malinda said...


I'm not as certain as you that she would have been told after the first offense that she wasn't a citizen and risked deportation. The crime might not have occurred in Arizona, it might have occurred in a sanctuary city where they would not have looked up her status. Her defense counsel might not have known, and thus could not tell her. And attacking the first conviction would't stop the deportation on the second conviction, so the fact that we're asking for humanitarian relief instead of attacking the conviction doesn't tell us anything. And that first conviction could only be attacked on ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to tell her her immigration status if it was a plea bargain, and we don't know whether it was.

And regardless of whether she knew, one can still argue that it is wrong to deport an adoptee because her parents failed to secure citizenship for her. Congress seemed to recognize that in the passage of the Child Citizenship Act, something both you and I benefitted from. It's a real shame Congress did not make the act retroactive.