In Arizona, a mother of three sits in a federal detention center awaiting deportation. The woman, known as “Seo,” isn’t in the country illegally. In fact, she was adopted at the age of eight months old from Korea. So, why does Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plan to deport her? Because Seo, who’s not a naturalized citizen despite being an adoptee, has been convicted of theft twice.
Immigration law stipulates that legal residents, which Seo is, can be deported to their countries of birth if they’re sentenced to serve more than a year of jail time. After being convicted of theft in 2008 and in 2009, Seo was ordered to serve a year-and-a-half in jail. This led ICE officials to begin deportation proceedings against her. The Korean Consulate, however, is asking ICE to reconsider deporting Seo. After all, she hasn’t been in Korea since birth, knows no one there and doesn’t speak the language. Moreover, she’s a single mother, and her three children would likely end up in the child welfare system in her absence.
Given this, it’s inhumane for ICE to deport Seo. She’s completely ill equipped for life in Korea, and her little ones would be left to fend for themselves in the U.S. if she’s sent away. Tell ICE not to take this mother away from her children.
- I.C.E. Director
The Korean Consulate is asking ICE to reconsider deporting a mother of three in Arizona—adopted in infancy from Korea—back to her country of birth. I write to you to echo that request. The mother in question, known as “Seo,” hasn’t been to Korea since she was a baby. She knows no one there and cannot communicate in Korean. If returned to Korea, she would be helpless and alone in a strange country. Moreover, she would be separated from her children, who are American citizens. Federal funds should not go towards keeping this woman, whose adoptive parents obviously intended her to grow up as an American, in an Arizona detention center. Seo is a legal resident, who like many international adoptees, may not have known that she wasn’t a full-fledged American citizen.
Seo has already served time for her theft convictions. Punishing her by forcing her out of the only country she and her children have known is beyond the pale. Please reconsider deporting this adoptee and mother of three back to Korea.
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