Congressman Mike Coffman released a statement Monday promising to fight for the family as follows:
I personally met with Mrs. Becerra on Friday afternoon regarding her case, and since then my office has been focused in getting answers. I will have a face-to-face meeting with the USCIS regional director on Wednesday; meanwhile all documentation has been requested from the U.S. Embassy in Lima and the State Department in Washington. I have full confidence that once this case is reviewed closely, we will have good news for the family—Angela is not going anywhere.
Angela Becerra is four years old. Her parents are both legal U.S. citizens. Her adoption is legal, documented, and official. Everything the family has done has been open and through all the correct legal channels. The Trump administration will deport the preschooler in a few short weeks if her parents aren’t able to somehow avert this disaster.
According to KDVR, parents Amy and Marco Becerra are U.S. citizens. Marco holds dual citizenship, also being a citizen of Peru. Both are government employees, Amy at the state level and Marco at the federal. When they spent time in Peru in 2014, a worker from an orphanage there asked if they could take care of a tiny, 11-day-old baby who had been abandoned at birth by a developmentally disabled mother.
In April 2017, the couple completed their adoption in a Peruvian court and planned to head back to the U.S. with their baby girl. Unfortunately, because her immigration application had already been submitted and not yet approved, Angela, who would turn 3 in May, could not enter the U.S. with her parents. It took over a year for a visa to be granted, and it was a tourist visa. It expires at the end of August.
Of course, as the legal child of two legal U.S. citizens, it was expected that Angela’s immigration application would be approved. Less than a month before her tourist visa expired, with likely too little time to complete an appeal, the immigration application was denied by the Trump administration.
Angela isn’t the first victim of U.S. immigration policies — more specifically, not the first victim who is a child legally adopted by U.S. citizens. According to Adoption, until 2001, a child adopted by U.S. citizens didn’t automatically become a citizen himself. They estimate that there are around 30,000 legal adoptees in the U.S. at risk of deportation. There are cases in the past in which, as an adult with a criminal record, one of these adoptees has indeed been deported.
However, at age four, preparing to enter pre-kindergarten classes, Angela most certainly does not have a criminal record.
The U.S. Department of State lays out the typical procedure for citizenship under the cited law: a child enters the U.S. under a visa for the purpose of adoption; adoption is completed in U.S. courts; citizenship is granted upon finalization of the adoption.
Angela’s adoption outside the country makes her the legal child of her parents, as much as an adoption inside the U.S. would, but means that finalization of the process — and therefore citizenship granted at the end of it — didn’t happen in a U.S. court.
Her parents are working with their congressional representative to reverse the decision and protect their daughter, but they recognize that, if the Trump administration won’t budge, they may have to leave the country with her and return to Peru to raise their child.