The 20-year-old Missouri woman doesn't look like someone you'd suspect is in the country illegally. Blonde-haired and blue-eyed, the young woman was a cheerleader in high school and has lived the epitome of the American Dream.
But if luck isn't on her side, the 20-year-old will board a plane at the end of the month to return to her home country of England, leaving her family, friends and life as she knows it behind. The woman is a British citizen who was brought to the United States at the age of 4.
Since then, she has lived with her parents, both from England, her younger sister and her grandparents, who are naturalized United States citizens. On Aug. 8, the woman turns 21 and will be bumped off of her parents' visas. At that point, she becomes an illegal immigrant.
One would think that the woman is a prime candidate for the Obama Administration's new policy known as "deferred action request." Under the rule, young people in the country illegally can avoid deportation by proving that they arrived in the United States before age 16 and, as of June 15, were not over age 30.
Additionally, applicants must have resided in the United States continuously for at least five years. They must also have no felony convictions and under a certain number or type of misdemeanors. Finally, the applicant must be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, or joined the United States armed forces.
There is just one problem. The 20-year-old entered the United States legally with her parents 16 years ago. The new rule only applies to people who entered the country illegally.
The president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said this is a less-common problem today, but some cases still exist. Although unfamiliar with the specific case, he said the problem could be that the woman's parents entered the country on an E-2 Treaty Investors visa, which is temporary and is not intended to lead to permanent immigration or citizenship status.
In effort to convince the Department of Homeland Security stay in the country, her small community has started a petition. Her parents have also contacted lawmakers in Washington and have hired several immigration lawyers.
Source: Kansas City Star, "Gap in policy forces woman to deport herself, reluctantly," Eric Adler, July 17, 2012