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Election leads to added anxiety for adoptees

Dani Toriumi
Dani Toriumi

The story of Adam Crapser, a 40-year-old adoptee who is awaiting deportation to Korea despite living in the United States since he was three, has been in the news since last year. I only recently heard about it. As someone who is adopted as well, I felt fearful when I first heard the story. A flash of panic settled an ache in my chest, as I remembered that I am a citizen, but some other people do not have that luxury or privilege.

According to the New York Times, Crapser’s second foster parents were convicted of child abuse, rape, sexual abuse and criminal mistreatment. Crapser was kicked out after an argument with his foster mom, and when he snuck back into the house to retrieve his few possessions from Korea, he was arrested for burglary. After that, he was arrested a few more times, for unlawful firearm possession, and for trying to call his son, violating a protection order that his ex-girlfriend had taken out on him. Since then, he married and became a stay-at-home dad.

I find this to be absolutely ridiculous, frustrating and heartbreaking. People who were adopted as children, whose parents failed to file for citizenship either because of neglect, or being unaware of the law, are now at risk for deportation if they have any sort of criminal record, petty or not, through no fault of their own.

The Child Citizenship Act, passed in 2000, automatically granted adoptees citizenship under the age of 18, but it left out those who were older.

Now, this possibility of deportation rests on whether the individual has a criminal record, and if they do, anything at all, then this is considered probable cause for deportation. So for some, this is not an immediate threat, but for others, it is.

According to The New York Times, at least three dozen international adoptees have faced deportation charges or have been deported. They also wrote that it is estimated that there are around 35,000 international adoptees who lack U.S. citizenship. In a time when Donald Trump has just been elected president, his anti-“other” speech, spanning massive amounts of subjects, not just limited to citizenship and who has a right to it, scares me. I am scared that this problem will only get worse.

Because this topic is so close to me, I feel especially scared by the feeling that rights that I was once secure in (human rights, rights to free speech, rights to protest, rights to my body, rights to my voice in workplaces, in government and in life) are now faltering beneath me.

Citizenship rights are especially under the spotlight, with Trump’s policies on the subject boiling down to racism and extreme nationalism. Taking this phenomenon at its most basic structure, children adopted from other countries–who often have little knowledge of those countries culture, language, government and politics–are being sent back to those countries because their parents or guardians failed to apply for their child’s citizenship.

This started before Trump became the president-elect, but I wonder what will happen after he is sworn in.