Kairi Shepherd was an orphan living in India when a Utah woman adopted her in 1982 — a seemingly good turn of luck for the 3-month-old, which included her obtaining legal permanent resident status in the United States.
But when she was 8, her adoptive mother died of cancer. When she was 17, she was arrested and convicted of felony check forgery to fuel a drug habit. Now 30, she is facing likely deportation after a 10th Circuit Court ruling Tuesday that upheld the federal government’s right to remove her from the country.
Judge Scott Matheson, in a 23-page decision, wrote the court simply didn’t have jurisdiction over determining Shepherd’s legal status.
Instead, Matheson denied her petition based on a series of technical procedures, including a failure to file a second appeal through the Board of Immigration Appeals as well as Shepherd’s attempt to get her petition reviewed prematurely.
Shepherd’s lawyer, Alan Smith, said he was disappointed the court didn’t tackle a "mistake" made by the federal government that allowed an immigration judge to uphold his client’s legal status after she provided a birth certificate, legal adoption papers and the argument she qualified for citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
The next day, however, government lawyers discovered she missed qualifying for the Child Citizenship Act by a few months and appealed the immigration judge’s ruling.
The government was successful.
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According to her sister, when her mother died, she was passed between older siblings. At 17, she was introduced to meth by a co-worker. On top of that, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She served several months in jail and was placed on probation.
"Yes, she made mistakes. And she should be held accountable. But she has been," her sister Kristi Tafoya said at the time. "Why aren’t adopted children protected?"
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