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Kairi Shepherd's case deserves compassion: India

May 26, 2012 09:14 IST

The Indian Embassy in Washington has sought details from the United States government on the issue of deportation of the Indian-American orphan Kairi Abha Shepherd, saying her case deserves to be treated with utmost sensitivity and compassion.

India holds key to deportation of Kairi Shepherd

"Her case deserves to be treated with the utmost sensitivity and compassion, keeping in mind the humanitarian dimension and tenets of universally accepted human rights," Indian Embassy spokesman Virander Paul said in a statement.

"The Embassy has seen reports concerning Kairi Shepherd, and has requested the US authorities for facts on this matter," the spokesman said referring to the media reports appearing in both India and the US.

Shepherd, 30, faces prospect of being deported to India from the United States, where she has lived after she was adopted by an Utah woman when she was just three months old.

"All the information available to us on this case indicates that it has a clearly humanitarian dimension, which cannot be ignored. As reports indicate, Shepherd was brought to the United States after adoption, as a baby, and has known no other home," Paul said, responding to media questions in this regard.

Three decades after she was adopted as three-months-old infant, Shepherd now faces the prospect of being deported to India, with a local court refusing to intervene in a federal government's deportation move on the ground that she is a "criminal alien".

Shepherd has termed deportation as a "death sentence" for her. As luck would have it, her mother died of cancer when she was eight.

When she was 17, she was arrested and convicted of felony check forgery to fuel a drug habit.

"Shepherd was an orphan in India when she was brought to this country for adoption in 1982 by a US citizen. Her adoptive mother died when she was eight years of age, and she was thereafter cared for by guardians. There is no record of any effort by Shepherd or her guardians to petition for her citizenship," court documents say.

"In March and May 2004, Shepherd was convicted in Utah of attempted forgery and third-degree forgery. After she served her time, the government initiated removal proceedings against her, alleging she was a criminal alien...based on the convictions," it said.

At an initial hearing before the Immigration Judge (IJ), government counsel noted that Shepherd's history suggested she might be able to prove she became a US citizen through adoption under the CCA's automatic citizenship provision.

This provision directs that "a child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States" when three conditions are fulfilled: (1) At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States; (2) The child is under the age of eighteen years; and (3) The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.

And citizenship constitutes the "denial of an essential jurisdictional fact" in a deportation proceeding.

In her statement Kairi Shepherd did refer to that fact that a lot depends on the issuing of travel documents by the Ministry of External Affairs.

"I especially want to thank the kind souls in India who are working tirelessly on my behalf and, in particular, the men and women in the Ministry of External Affairs who reportedly may deny the issuance of travel documents, thus preventing my forced departure from America.

"Their hearts must be filled with compassion and I truly appreciate their efforts as these efforts, quite literally, may save my life," Shepherd said in a statement.

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