DENVER – Attorneys are scrambling to find a way to prevent the deportation of a woman who was adopted from an orphanage in India as a 3-month-old baby after a determination by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that she is in the country illegally.
Kairi Abha Shepherd’s adoptive mother died when she was 8 years old, never having filed citizenship paperwork, her attorney Alan L. Smith of Salt Lake City said.
The Denver-based appellate court earlier this month upheld an immigration court’s ruling that Shepherd, now 30, is too old to qualify for automatic citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 that applies to children from foreign countries who are adopted by Americans.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began efforts to deport Shepherd in 2007 after she was jailed in Salt Lake City for probation violation of a 2004 guilty plea to a felony charge of forgery. ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Shepherd’s conviction was an aggravated felony, making her an immigration enforcement priority.
Shepherd has no family or contacts in India.
“I think she took a geography class in high school where she learned about India,” Smith said. “She doesn’t speak the language, she has no connection whatsoever. She’s American through and through.”
In a statement issued through Smith, Shepherd said she suffers from multiple sclerosis and has other health issues.
“The deportation order which may force me to part from my physicians, family, and friends here, could be a death sentence to me,” she said.