A Colorado couple is scrambling to protect their four-year-old adopted daughter from deportation, after the child’s immigration case was recently denied.
Amy and Marco Becerra, who are U.S. citizens, were living in Peru when they decided to adopt their daughter Angela in 2014. A Peruvian court finalized the adoption in 2017, according to a local Fox affiliate. Angela’s biological mother, who had developmental disabilities and had been a victim of sex-trafficking, had asked the Becerras to care for the girl, Amy Becerra told the news outlet.
Because Angela’s adoption was a domestic Peruvian one, and not international, the Becerra’s had to remain in Peru for more than a year after the adoption was finalized before the United States granted Angela a temporary tourist visa, which expires at the end of the month.
With weeks to go before the visa expiration, their daughter’s pending immigration application was denied without explanation, meaning Angela would be undocumented come September 1.
“We’re both citizens. My husband and I have a full legal binding adoption completed and we have a birth certificate that lists no other parent,” Amy Becerra told the outlet. “I don’t know what it takes to reopen a case. Once it’s closed, it’s closed.”
“If she expires her visa, she is officially here as an undocumented alien. And legally is at risk for deportation even though both her parents are citizens,” Becerra added. Both she and her husband work for the government — she, for the Colorado government and her husband for the federal government.
While the Becerras can appeal the decision, the process would likely be a lengthy one that could drag on longer than August 31, when Angela’s visa expires.
The case comes at a critical time during the Trump administration’s increased crackdown on undocumented immigrants, with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency arresting more undocumented immigrants without criminal histories under President Donald Trump than during the Obama administration. Many who face deportation have children and other relatives who are U.S. citizens and have had to deal with seeing their families ripped apart.
In one particularly troubling case, ICE agents recently deported the wife of a U.S. Marine veteran, after her undocumented status was revealed during a traffic stop in 2013. Apart from her illegal entry into the United States in 1998, she has no criminal record.
At the border, Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy has also caused thousands of family separations since May. Under the policy, officials can prosecute all people, including asylum seekers, who do not cross into the United States at ports of entry. U.S. officials separated children from their families while parents awaited prosecution.
Heightened criticism of the zero tolerance policy eventually compelled Trump to sign an executive order in June to halt family separation, while keeping the zero-tolerance policy in place, opting to detain families together. Recent data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last week found that apprehensions of families increased more than 142 percent over the past year, with more than 9,200 undocumented family members detained in July 2018.