Retired Army Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber might seem an unlikely candidate to move out of the country, but he might need to do it if he wants to keep his family together.
Schreiber’s adopted daughter Hyebin could be deported to South Korea after she finishes college. Last year, a district court ruled in favor of immigration authorities who rejected citizenship and visa applications for Hyebin. A federal appellate court will hear the case next month and decide whether to uphold the decision, The Kansas City Star reported.
Hyebin, Schreiber’s biological niece, was legally brought to the U.S. to stay with Schrieber and his wife in December 2012 when she was 15 and experiencing home troubles.
Schreiber told The Kansas City Star that he and his wife discussed adopting Hyebin because things were continuing to deteriorate with her family in Korea. At the same time, Schrieber, who has served 27 years and six deployments for the U.S. Army, had orders to go back to Afghanistan for a deployment.
“It’s probably my greatest regret in life,” Schreiber said, recalling how he consulted with an adoption lawyer instead of an immigration lawyer.
Believing that Hyebin could be adopted as long as she was under 18, Schreiber decided to complete the formal adoption when he returned from his year-long deployment.
Hyebin received a Kansas birth certificate listing Schreiber and his wife as her parents, and her foreign birth certificate was sealed. She was 17, and it was a legal adoption.
But a critical deadline in a different entity of government had passed while Schreiber was away. Under immigration law, adopted children only have a path to citizenship if they are adopted before age 16. Schreiber was also told Hyebin would need a biological parent-child connection to qualify to pursue a visa as Schreiber’s dependent.
Schreiber’s attorney, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, said that the family is prepared to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A March 2018 article in Military Times listed three new bills under consideration in Congress that would address deportation in relation to military veterans, spouses and dependents.
But for the Schreibers, time is short. Hyebin is expected to graduate from the University of Kansas in December. If she does have to leave when her student visa expires, Schreiber and his wife will follow her.
“It’s really a question of family. We stay together as a family,” Schreiber said. “And even if we leave, I’ll take my American flag with 16 battle streamers that hang off it to Korea with us.”
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