Kansas City, MO (October 11, 2018) – U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Patrick Schreiber and his family are dealing with another blow in their battle to navigate the misalignment of U.S. adoption and immigration laws.
Hyebin traveled from Korea at the age of 15 to live with her uncle and aunt Lt. Col. Schreiber and his wife, Soo Jin Yu. They legally adopted her at the age of 17; after Lt. Col. Schreiber returned from another tour in Afghanistan. The family later discovered that for an adopted child to be considered for immigration benefits under one part of the US immigration law, the adoption must have been completed before the child turned 16. The family, however, has argued that other provisions of immigration law may still be properly utilized to grant Hyebin the right to stay with her parents permanently. The portion of the immigration laws that the Schrieber’s wish to utilize involves recognizing that the state of Kansas, by its adoption laws, places an adopted child on the same footing as a biological child and this method of legitimating a child comports with the federal immigration law.
Friday, September 28, U.S. District of Kansas, Judge Daniel D. Crabtree, ruled in favor of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), concluding that the “plain meaning of most definitions of the word ‘legitimate’ suggests that a biological connection is required, and that the law of the child or father’s domicile alone does not supply the definition.” In so finding, the Court recognized that Hyebin would be left with no legal remedy despite having a valid Kansas birth certificate. The court stated, “If the court interprets [the immigration law] to require a biological relationship, it recognizes that the statute will not cover this ‘narrow classification of children…The court acknowledges that the statute thus will not achieve at least one congressional goal—family unity for these children.” Despite this recognition, the Court found that the US immigration law turned on a biological connection alone.
Hyebin has been recognized by the State of Kansas and the US military as the legitimate adopted child of Lt. Col. Schreiber and his wife. The court’s ruling however means that Hyebin would have to leave the country right after graduation from college from Kansas University, where she is a senior studying chemical engineering.
The Schreiber’s lawyer, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, has already filed an appeal of Judge Crabtree’s decision. The family is hoping that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals uphold Congresses “clearly expressed legislative intention to keep together the family unit wherever possible, it would appear to be a desirable result, based upon legal and equitable considerations, to adopt a liberal construction. No harm could possibly result from such a construction, and the consequences would fulfill the humane considerations involved in keeping intact the family unit.” (H.R. REP. NO. 85-1199, pt. 2 (1957))
Lt. Col. Schreiber has indicated that if Hyebin is not allowed to stay, he and his wife will relocate to South Korea to keep the family together. As previously stated, his greatest regret is that in this one instance, he should have put the need of his family ahead of the Army.
“Can you imagine? An American veteran, who has given his life to this Country is forced to leave the country he served because the daughter he loves is not welcome here,” said Sharma-Crawford. “That cannot be what the law means. It just can’t.”