India may help woman facing deportation in America

Chetan Chauhan

New Delhi, May 21 -- The Indian government may come to the aid of 30-year-old Kairi Shepherd, who faces deportation from the United States following a local court rejecting her claim for residency.

After Kairi's case was highlighted by Hindustan Times recently, the ministry of external affairs asked the Indian Embassy in Washington for more information. "We have sought additional information in the case," an external affairs ministry official said.

The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), mandated to look into all cases of inter-country adoption, has also sought the MEA's intervention. The authority said it can't do much because Kairi's adoption had taken place before its inception.

"It is sad that CARA has washed its hands of her case," said Anjali Pawar, director of Pune-based NGO Sakee, which has filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against inter-country adoption.

Kairi is currently in hiding in the US, fearing deportation by Immigration agencies. She fears that if she is forcibly sent to India, there would be nobody to take care of her. Kairi suffers from multiple sclerosis.

She, however, hopes that the Indian government will help because she has turned into a "global orphan". While the US has refused to acknowledge her despite being a resident for almost 30 years, she has virtually nobody in India. "I have no documents to trace my Indian parents," Kairi told Pawar.

Kairi was just three months old when she adopted by Erlene Shepherd from an orphanage in India. The youngest of eight adopted kids, she was eight - and without US citizenship - when Erlene died. At 17, Kairi was convicted of forging cheques to finance her drug habit.

The US federal court recently upheld the government's right to deport Kairi because she had failed to qualify for citizenship by a few months under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.