A woman who was brought to the country by her parents at a very young age was adopted by a couple at age 8 because her biological parents were abusing her. When she was legally adopted, a case worker informed the family that their newly-adopted daughter automatically earned U.S. citizenship.
When she became a teenager, she went to get her driver’s license (like so many Los Angeles residents at that age do). While applying, it was discovered she was not, in fact, a U.S. citizen. For years she endured deportation threats and lived in fear, all because a poorly-informed case worker operating in a complicated system of immigration law gave the woman a horribly incorrect piece of information.
Now 21, the woman sued the Oregon Department of Human Services, where she received the false news. Her $1 million case was in limbo until an appellate court recently upheld her filing; welcome news for the woman who has suffered greatly as a result of this gaffe.
She couldn’t get a job; she was unable to attend college (because her adoptive parents couldn’t afford it after their divorce, and because she could not receive federal financial aid as an illegal immigrant); and a bevy of appeals and applications for permanent residency were muddied by various provisions that could have banned the woman from the U.S. for many years.
However, things are now looking up for the 21-year-old. She is married to a U.S. citizen; her lawsuit will move forward; and her legal status is improving after she received a temporary visa because she was a victim of a crime (child abuse). Such specialized visas, called “U visas,” have a limited cap (only about 10,000 issues per year).
Often times, a person facing sanctions for their legal status can feel as though the deck is stacked against them. All the rules and laws that could help don’t seem to apply to them, and all the rules and laws that hurt them inevitably are used against them. However, by consulting with an experienced lawyer well-versed in immigration law, you can learn about visas and specialized conditions or applications that allow you to stay with your family and fairly combat a complicated immigration system.
Source: Associated Press, “Case in adoption-immigration snafu to proceed,” Aug. 19, 2012