A South Korean man who was adopted by an American family when he was three years old is expected to be deported after immigration judge John O'Dell ruled against relief that would have allowed him to remain in the US.
The Adoptee Rights Campaign said Adam Crapser's adoptive parents never applied for naturalisation. He is one of an estimated 35,000 international adoptees who do not hold US citizenship and could be deported for a number of minor crimes.
According to Associated Press, seven years after Crapser and his older sister were adopted, their adoptive parents abandoned them. Crapser, 10 at the time, was separated from his sister by the foster care system and was housed in various foster and group homes.
Two years later, he was taken in by Thomas and Dolly Crapser. The couple had a biological son, two other adoptees and several foster children, NBC News reported. Crapser says he was physically abused by the couple and in 1991, they were arrested on charges of physical child abuse, sexual abuse and rape.
The couple denied the charges. Thomas was sentenced to 90 days in jail, while his wife was sentenced to three years of probation.
In 2014, federal immigration officials got to know of Crapser as he attempted to renew his permanent resident card. His criminal convictions, which included burglary and assault, made him potentially eligible for deportation.
"Adam and his family are heartbroken at the outcome," Lori Walls of the Washington Immigration Defense Group told NBC News. "He was eligible for a discretionary form of relief called 'cancellation of removal', and the immigration judge decided he did not deserve this relief," Walls, who is representing Crapser, said.
She added that Crapser is "desperate to be out of detention and waived appeal". He is presently at an immigration detention centre in Tacoma, Washington and is set to be deported as soon as arrangements are made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBS News reported.
"While I am disappointed in the judge's ruling and worried about my family's future, I hope that what has happened to me will further demonstrate the importance of passing the Adoptee Citizenship Act," said the father-of-three.
According to NBC News, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015 is being considered by the Senate under S2275 and the House of Representatives under HR5454. If the bill is passed, it would close a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which grants automatic US citizenship to children adopted by US citizens. The law does not apply to those adoptees who were already 18 years old when the law was passed.
Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, told CBS News that arrangements were being made for Crapser to get documents to fly him back to his country of birth.