Kaine Intervenes In Deportation Case

Kathryn Ingleson, with children Hakeem, 18, and Ali'yah, 9, had faced deportation because of a crime she committed as a teenager.
Kathryn Ingleson, with children Hakeem, 18, and Ali'yah, 9, had faced deportation because of a crime she committed as a teenager. (Family Photo)
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By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 15, 2008

A Newport News woman who was to be deported yesterday for a 1996 crime has been pardoned by Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and will be granted a one-year reprieve by federal immigration authorities.

Kathryn Ingleson, 31, a British citizen who has lived legally in the Hampton Roads area since she was a child, must ask the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen her case and vacate her deportation order, according to Joseph P. Drennan, her Alexandria-based attorney.

"There's still some red tape to go through, so I'm still a little bit scared," Ingleson, a single mother of two children who are U.S. citizens, said yesterday. "But I'm relieved."

Ingleson and her parents emigrated from England as lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, when she was 7. In 1996, she used customers' credit card numbers to purchase about $340 worth of items at a store where she worked as a cashier, a crime to which she confessed after being confronted by her employers. Ingleson pleaded guilty to two counts of felony credit card theft in late 1997, paid restitution and served probation.

Ingleson's conviction came months after a 1996 federal immigration law took effect. The law expanded the categories of deportable offenses and barred immigration judges from considering most legal immigrants' ties to their communities or hardship to their U.S. citizen relatives. Activists and lawyers say immigration authorities, who have stepped up efforts to deport immigrants with criminal records, are increasingly using the law to deport legal immigrants for relatively old and minor crimes.

In 2003, Ingleson was stopped by U.S. customs officials at Dulles International Airport as she returned from a trip to England. A month later, she was arrested by immigration authorities, who said her crime made her deportable. Ingleson's subsequent appeals to immigration and federal courts failed, and she was scheduled to be deported yesterday.

But developments this week have stalled her removal. On Tuesday, Kaine (D) granted Ingleson a simple pardon, or official forgiveness, citing her otherwise clean criminal history, her children, her steady work history and her home ownership.

On Wednesday, Drennan said, a Newport News Circuit Court judge amended Ingleson's convictions to credit card fraud, which is not a deportable offense. The same day, Rep. Robert J. Wittman (R-Va.) wrote a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requesting that officials delay Ingleson's deportation; ICE officials told Wittman that day that they would grant her a one-year stay, said Steve Stampley, Wittman's spokesman.

An ICE official confirmed that the agency plans to grant the reprieve, which will give Ingleson time to continue her appeals.

"We're at a stage now where there is significant cause for optimism as for what the result will be," Drennan said. "I'm very pleased, but we're not out of the woods yet."

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