A South Korean man who was adopted by an American couple 37 years ago at age 3 has been ordered deported to South Korea because he is not a U.S. citizen.
For nine months, Adam Crapser has been separated from his family while he waits in an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Washington, reports The Associated Press.
His attorney, Lori Walls of the Washington Immigration Defense Group in Seattle, said he is married and has four children.
"He will be deported as soon as Immigration and Customs Enforcement makes the necessary arrangements," Walls said. "Adam, his family, and advocates are heartbroken at the outcome."
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Crasper is one of an estimated 35,000 adoptees who lack U.S. citizenship, notes Dae Joong "DJ" Yoon, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium.
In most cases, the adoptive parents never file citizenship documentation on behalf of their adopted children, due to neglect or failure to understand that their children didn’t automatically become citizens when they finalized the adoption, reports The New York Times.
Sometimes adoption agencies are to blame, either failing to adequately screen parents, or not following through on the paperwork.
Adoptees often discover they’re not citizens when they apply for student loans, try to get a passport or register to vote.
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The Child Citizenship Act, passed in 2000, was an attempt to address this problem by granting automatic citizenship to children adopted by U.S. citizens.
That law applies only to adoptees who were under the age of 18, which left adult adoptees vulnerable to deportation, especially those, like Crasper, who have a criminal history.
Crapser, born Shin Song Hyuk, was adopted by an abusive American couple at age 3, after which he went to live with an even more abusive couple -- Thomas and Dolly Crasper -- who were eventually convicted on several counts of criminal mistreatment and assault, including sexual abuse and rape.
When Crasper was 16, after the second family abandoned him, he was arrested after breaking into their house in an attempt to retrieve shoes he brought with him from the Korean orphanage and his Korean Bible.
He served 25 months in prison after pleading guilty to burglary. That led to years of hard times, including homelessness, before he got his life back on track, with a career and a family.
Then in 2012 he applied for a green card, which triggered a background investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, which in turn made him subject to deportation.
“Adam’s ultimately responsible for his actions, but at what point do we stop punishing him?” asked Walls.
“I was told to be American," Crasper said in an interview with The New York Times. "And I tried to fit in. I learned every piece of slang. I studied everything I could about American history. I was told to stop crying about my mom, my sister, Korea. I was told to be happy because I was an American.”