Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Adoptee from South Korea faces deportation from US

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM
South Korean adoptee Adam Crapser (left) poses with daughters, one-year-old Christal and five-year-old Christina, and his wife, Anh Nguyen, in the family’s living room in Vancouver.

More than three decades ago, a three-year-old South Korean boy and his sister flew to the United States (US) to become the adopted children of American citizens, but their life together didn't last long.

They were abandoned, sent into foster care and separated, even though he was dependent upon her.

A family adopted the girl, and got her citizenship. The boy, named Adam Crapser, wasn't as fortunate: The parents he had were abusive, and never sought the green card or citizenship for him that they should have.

Now, at 39, after a life struggling with joblessness because of his lack of immigration papers, homelessness and crime, Crapser, a married father of three, is facing deportation because he's not a citizen.

"The state abandoned him when he was a child," his attorney, Lori Walls, said. "Now the US is throwing him out."

A deportation hearing is set for April 2.

Federal immigration officials say they became aware of Crapser after he applied to renew his green card two years ago: his criminal convictions, ranging from burglary to assault, made him potentially deportable under immigration law.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement wasn't aware of Crapser's childhood adoption history when it decided to pursue his deportation, agency spokesman Andrew Munoz said.

Two US senators, including Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, are proposing a stand-alone, automatic citizenship bill for adoptees like Crapser.

"It was not his responsibility to fill out that immigration paperwork," Merkley said. "He knows no other country."

Advocates say thousands of adoptees don't know they aren't citizens until they, for example, try to get a job.

The federal government does not track the citizenship status of international adoptees or how many have faced deportation. The State Department says it is aware of adult adoptees who are in immigration removal proceedings.