The Becerras, both U.S. citizens who were living in Peru at the time, agreed to foster the child in 2014. They named her Angela and for three years watched her grow from infant to chubby-cheeked toddler.
Last April, the couple formally adopted Angela in Peru and began making plans to move back to Colorado, according to KDVR News.
“We wanted her to have the opportunities that are available here, the education that’s available here,” Amy Becerra told the news station. “The American Dream.”
It wouldn’t be so easy. Angela’s application for immigration to the United States kept getting delayed. After more than a year, the Becerras were able to bring Angela to Colorado — but only on a tourist visa that would expire Aug. 31.
Still, they hoped Angela’s immigration application would be approved before her tourist visa expired. However, the Becerras checked last week on the status of the application online and saw grim news: The toddler’s case for U.S. citizenship had been denied.
The decision baffled the Becerras because they are the only parents of record listed on Angela’s birth certificate, Amy Becerra told KDVR News last week. She added that they were still awaiting a letter explaining why Angela had been denied citizenship and had consulted immigration attorneys, to no avail.
Meanwhile, they are seeking options to keep Angela, now 4 years old, from potentially being deported.
“All of it’s in jeopardy because I don’t know what it takes to reopen a case. Once it’s closed, it’s closed,” Amy Becerra told the news station. “If she expires her visa, she is officially here as an undocumented alien and legally is at risk for deportation, even though both her parents are citizens. It’s inconceivable that a child of two citizen parents would have to live out their life as an undocumented alien in this country.”
A spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services declined to speak about this specific case, citing privacy issues.
“However, when making decisions regarding intercountry adoption cases, USCIS considers the welfare of the child to be paramount,” the spokesman, Michael Bars, said in an email. “We are committed to acting in the best interests of the children and families while upholding the integrity of our immigration system and our country’s rule of law.”
The Becerras have turned to the office of one of their members of Congress for assistance. In a statement Monday, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said his office has requested documentation from the U.S. Embassy in Lima as well as the State Department.
“I personally met with Mrs. Becerra on Friday afternoon regarding her case, and since then my office has been focused on getting answers. I will have a face-to-face meeting with the USCIS regional director on Wednesday,” Coffman stated. “I have full confidence that once this case is reviewed closely, we will have good news for the family — Angela is not going anywhere.”
The Becerra family did not respond to interview requests through Coffman’s office.