Utah woman adopted as baby faces deportation to India, despite no connections there

By P. Solomon Banda

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 28 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

She was ordered to pay $300 in restitution, plus $1,055 in court fees, and placed on probation and received a five year suspended prison sentence. Smith said she has repaid most of the money, with part of that debt suspended while her immigration case is pending.

After her felony conviction she went in and out of jail for failing to comply with probation, which included completing drug treatment programs, not using drugs and not associating with those who use drugs.

It was during one of those stays in jail in October 2007 that she came to the attention of ICE agents at the Salt Lake County Jail. She said she spent most of 2008 in ICE detention and she is now out of ICE custody and awaiting the outcome of her deportation order issued in February 2010.

Smith said Shepherd is currently unable to work and is relying on the help of friends to live. Smith wouldn't disclose too much about her living situation but said she is not in hiding.

"She's got herself in a fix because of her behavior, but on the other hand, the world has dealt her a bad hand with people, which a child should be able to count on," Smith said. "Adults, government, adoption agencies ... She fell between the cracks."

Congress passed a law granting automatic citizenship to foreign adopted children, but it applied to those who were under 18 on February, 27, 2001, when it took effect. Shepherd, born on April 1, 1982, is 11 months too old to qualify, the courts ruled in declaring her an "alien."

"There are thousands of people who were internationally adopted and aren't U.S. citizens," said Chuck Johnson, spokesman for the Washington-based National Council For Adoption. "They're finding out that they don't have it (citizenship) when they apply for scholarships, passports, the military, or in tragic cases, they have committed a crime, they're considered an immigrant and they're deported.'"

Efforts are under way to lobby Congress for a law granting citizenship to those adopted by Americans in other countries possibly as far back to the 1940s when such adoptions became popular, Johnson said. "People don't associate foreign country adoption with immigration. For law abiding citizens and minors, it's a non-issue."

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