The US today said that the deportation of Indian orphan Kairi Abha Shepherd was consistent with its immigration priorities, indicating it would go ahead with the proceedings, despite an appeal by New Delhi that her case be treated with "sensitivity and compassion".
India had said that the humanitarian dimension of the case should be considered before removing Shepherd, who was adopted by an Utah woman from Kolkata when she was just three months old and has lived in the US ever since.
In 2004, Shepherd, was convicted of attempted forgery and third-degree forgery. After she served her time, the
government initiated removal proceedings against her, and the 30 year old is facing deportation as a "criminal alien".
Reacting to the Indian request, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the deportation proceedings were in line with immigration enforcement priorities.
"ICE has reviewed Ms Shepherd's case at length and believes seeking her removal is consistent with the agency's immigration enforcement priorities, which include focusing on identification and deportation of aliens with felony criminal convictions," spokesperson Virginia Kice said.
The statement came in response to the Indian Embassy spokesman, Virander Paul's plea in this regard that her case "deserves to be treated with the utmost sensitivity and compassion, keeping in mind the humanitarian dimension and tenets of universally accepted human rights".
"The Embassy has seen reports concerning Kairi Shepherd, and has requested the US authorities for facts on this matter," the spokesman said. "All the information available to us on this case indicates that it has a clearly humanitarian dimension that cannot be ignored. As reports indicate, Kairi Shepherd was brought to the United States after adoption, as a baby, and has known no other home," Paul said.
Explaining the case of Shepherd, the ICE spokesperson said she was originally encountered by Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers at the Salt Lake County Adult Detention Complex in October 2007 following her incarceration on unknown local charges.
"ERO officers processed Ms Shepherd and placed her in immigration removal proceedings after determining she was potentially deportable based upon her criminal history," Kice said.
She said an immigration judge had ordered Shepherd's deportation in February 2010, and a Court of Appeals had recently declined to set aside that order.
"Background checks indicate Ms Shepherd's criminal history includes two prior convictions in Utah in 2004 for attempted forgery and forgery, the latter of which constitutes an aggravated felony," Kice said, defending ICE's decision to move ahead with the deportation proceedings.
Shepherd has said deportation was akin to 'death sentence' for her.
Shepherd was adopted by an Utah woman in 1982. As luck would have it, her mother died of cancer when she was eight. "Ms Shepherd was an orphaned baby in India when she was brought to this country for adoption in 1982 by a US citizen. Her adoptive mother died when she was eight years of age, and she was thereafter cared for by guardians. There is no record of any effort by Ms Shepherd or her guardians to petition for her citizenship," court documents say.