Adoptee Faces Deportation From Misprinted Birth Certificate

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Date: 2003-01-01

Adoptee Faces Deportation From Misprinted Birth Certificate

A side effect of a 1996 immigration law has some adoptees facing deportation. KoreAm Journal chronicles the story of Aaron Billings, 27 who is facing possible deportation to South Korea.

Lowell and Bonnie Billings adopted Aaron from Korea when he was 3 years old. At that time, a misprinted birth certificate sent from the adoption agency led them to believe that Aaron’s alien status had been changed to that of a U.S. citizen, and so they never pursued the naturalization process for him as adoptive parents are required to do. But in April 2001, Aaron was picked up for selling marijuana, and the INS identified him as an illegal alien. Because of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which imposed harsh regulations on non-citizens who commit crimes, even misdemeanors, Billings ended up detained in San Diego and facing deportation.

After a two-year campaign of legal appeals, letters from prominent community members, coupled with the Korean Consulate's hesitation to issue papers, Billings was suddenly released without explanation recently. He is still under "order of supervision" which leaves him vulnerable to being deported. His parents worry that Aaron who has learning and cognitive disabilities can get into trouble again unwittingly.

If the U.S. government determines that Aaron is no longer a threat and the Korean Consulate issues a denial of travel documents, then Aaron will be allowed to stay in the United States, but without the rights of a citizen. Because he would still technically be under the order of supervision this could mean that Lowell and Bonnie will bear the burden of keeping track of Aaron for the rest of their lives. "We made that commitment when we adopted him," says Lowell.

Elizabeth Price, Donal Brown and Marcelo Ballve contributed to this report

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