By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 14:45 GMT, 29 May
29 May 2012
Deportation battle: Attorneys are fighting to stop Kairi
Shepherd, who was adopted from India as a 3-month-old baby, being deported
A 30-year-old woman who has lived in the U.S
since she was adopted from an orphanage in India as a baby is facing deportation
after a court ruled she is living in the country illegally.
Kairi Shepherd, who has been orphaned twice
following the death of her biological Indian mother when she was just
3-months-old and her adoptive American mother, has described the deportation
order as a ‘death sentence.’
Shepherd could be thrown out of the country
because her adoptive mother, a widow from Utah who died of breast cancer when
Shepherd was eight, never filed citizenship paperwork for her.
Last week Indian authorities highlighted the
‘humanitarian dimension’ of Shepherd’s case – urging the U.S. to deal with the
‘utmost sensitivity and compassion.’
Despite this plea the U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed ‘Shepherd has a final order of removal’
– adding that she was ‘not in ICE custody at this time.’
Outlining the deportation procedure, ICE said
they must first obtain a travel document to ensure ‘the receiving country will
admit the alien who is being returned.’
India have not yet provided these crucial
Following a media outcry over the case,
Shepherd, who was thought to be living under the radar in Utah to avoid
detection, spoke out to deny she was in hiding.
‘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,’ she said in a statement.
Although Congress passed a law granting
automatic citizenship to foreign adopted children Shepherd is 11 months too old
Earlier this month, a Denver-based appellate
court upheld an immigration court’s ruling that Shepherd does not qualify for
automatic citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Shepherd, who suffers from multiple sclerosis
and has never been back to India, previously said in a statement: ‘The deportation order which may
force me to part from my physicians, family, and friends here, could be a death
sentence to me.’
‘Death sentence’: Immigration officials issued Shepherd
with a deportation order in 2010 after she spent time in jail for probation
violation. Shepherd, who has no connections in India, has described the
deportation order as a ‘death sentence’
Aged 17, Shepherd was arrested and convicted
for forging checks to fund an alleged drug habit, reported the Deseret
In a separate offence, Shepherd pleaded guilty
to a charge of attempted forgery and was jailed in Salt Lake City in
After her conviction Shepherd was in and out
of prison for failing to comply to her probation ordering her to complete a drug
programme. During this time she drew the attention of the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In 2007 I.C.E began removal proceedings
against her. She spent the majority of the following year in I.C.E detention and
was issued with a deportation order in February 2010.
Shepherd’s adopted siblings, friends and
lawyers, who are working pro bono, are currently fighting to overturn her
deportation order and gain her legal status.
Conflict: Indian authorities have requested that the U.S.
treat the case with ¿utmost sensitivity and compassion¿ but on Saturday I.C.E
officials said deporting Shepherd would be consistent with their priorities and
‘I think she took a geography class in high
school where she learned about India,’ her attorney Alan L.Smith said. ‘She
doesn’t speak the language, she has no connection whatsoever. She’s American
through and through.’
In the fight to keep Shepherd in the U.S. her
defence may appeal to the U.S Supreme court, ask the Indian government to deny
travel documents, or ask a state court judge to allow Shepherd to retract her
guilty plea, explained Smith.
Shepherd assumed she was a U.S citizen when
she pleaded guilty to a felony in 2004, said Smith.
On Saturday, the I.C.E said that deporting
Shepherd would be consistent with priorities and rules.
However, Indian authorities have requested
that the U.S. treat the case with ‘utmost sensitivity and compassion.’
‘All the information available to us on this
case indicates that it has a clearly humanitarian dimension that cannot be
ignored. As reports indicate, Kairi Shepherd was brought to the United States
after adoption, as a baby, and has known no other home,’ the Indian Embassy said
in a statement.
Shepherd was adopted by Erlene Shepherd in
1983. Smith said that the woman, a widow from Utah, adopted three children from
the U.S, three from Thailand and two from India.
She filed all the appropriate paperwork for
her other children before she died of breast cancer in 1992, according to one of
Shepherd’s attorney succinctly summarised his
client’s plight saying, ‘She fell between the cracks.’