Adam Crapser, a 41-year-old immigrant of South Korean origin who was recently deported from his home and family in Washington back to South Korea.
Even worse for Crapser, before his deportation, South Korea was nothing more than a distant memory from his early childhood.
His story is not common, but it can happen to immigrants who were adopted before 2000.
At age three, Crapser and his older sister were put up for adoption by their birth parents. They were soon adopted by a couple living in the United States. These adoptive parents fought often and would violently punish Crapser and his sister. Six years later, the couple split up, and so did young Crapser from his sister.
Crapser then bounced between foster homes before ending up with his foster family, the Crapser’s. Unfortunately, his new foster family was even more violent than his adoptive one. In 1992 Thomas and Dolly Crapser were charged with child abuse, sexual abuse, and criminal mistreatment, and were convicted on counts of criminal mistreatment and assault. Thomas served 90 days in prison, while Dolly served three years on probation.
After being kicked out of his foster home, Crapser lived in a homeless shelter, with friends, and in his car. He was later caught breaking in to his former foster families home to retrieve his Korean bible and a pair of shoes, and was sentenced to 25 months in prison. Crapser was also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, assault after a fight with a roommate, and a protection order placed by an ex-girlfriend.
There are thousands of adoptees who were brought to the United States and turned 18 before 2000 and whose adoptive parents did not complete the process of citizenship.
But even after all of this, he was still able to turn his life around. He got married and became a stay-at-home father to three children. He was unable to obtain a full-time job because of his immigration status, so, after years of fighting, he was able to get his adoption paperwork from his former foster family and applied for a green card in 2012.
While going through the application process he was subjected to a background investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, which turned up his criminal record. This record made him subject to deportation. Although Crapser was guilty of the crimes he committed, he served his punishment.
In 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act, which granted each child adopted by a citizen of the United States automatic citizenship. However, this only applied children who were still under 18 on the date the act was passed, therefore excluding Crapser from obtaining citizenship.
After spending eight months in an immigration detention center, the judges ruled he was to be deported. Crapser waved his right to appeal the decision because he felt that he could not spend any more time in the dehumanizing conditions of the detention center. If Crapser’s adoptive or foster parents had not neglected to file for citizenship, then Crapser would have paid for his crimes and been able to move on. But due to the negligence of his abusive foster parents, he is now losing his life over a crime that he has already paid for.
“If Crapser’s adoptive or foster parents had not neglected to file for citizenship, then Crapser would have paid for his crimes and been able to move on.”
Crapser is not alone in his predicament, though. There are thousands of adoptees who were brought to the United States and turned 18 before 2000 and whose adoptive parents did not complete the process of citizenship. All of these individuals are vulnerable to deportation, even though they were brought by American citizens to the United States.
Currently, there is a push for the new Congress to pass a bill, the Adoptee Citizenship Act, which would grant citizenship to individuals who were adopted before 2000, who were not covered by the Child Citizenship Act. This particular issue within the greater argument of immigration policy is unique in its bipartisan support and lack of effect on other areas of immigration policy.
Democratic Congressman Adam Smith from Bellevue, Washington has fought for this bill with bipartisan support in the last session of the current Congress, though it was unable to get through committee. It is the hope of Congressman Smith and organizations like the Adoptee Rights Campaign that the bill will be passed by the new Congress.
To learn more about the Adoptee Citizenship Act and the people fighting to get it passed, read the Chronicle for Social Change article, “Fight Continues to Close Citizenship Loophole for Adoptees.”
If you or someone you know were adopted before 2000 and whose adoptive parents may not have completed their citizenship process, contact an immigration attorney. You can call my office at (407) 512-9919, or reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our first consultation is always free.
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