(KPTV/CNN) — A Portland, Oregon man born in South Korea is fighting to stay in the country in a case that has caught the attention of the U.S. Senate.
It highlights an issue with immigration law and international adoptions.
Adam Crapser spent his 40th birthday in court, fighting to stay in the only country he knows.
He and his sister came to the U.S. from South Korea when he was three years old. They were later abandoned by their adoptive parents, separated into foster care, and sent on two very different paths. His sister was adopted by a family and got her citizenship. But he says he ended up with abusive foster parents who neglected to finalize his naturalization.
Crapser ended up living on the streets, stealing to survive. But decades later, he is a husband and father, with another baby on the way.
When he tried to update his legal status a couple years ago, his earlier criminal history raised a red flag for immigration authorities.
He could be deported to South Korea. He doesn’t speak Korean and doesn’t think he’d survive.
In 2000, Congress passed a bill making all international adoptees automatic U.S. citizens, but the law was not made retroactive. That leaves scores of other adoptees at the risk of deportation.
Oregon senator Jeff Merkley supports Crapser’s fight to stay in the U.S. and is taking action on Capitol Hill. He and another senator are proposing a stand-alone bill to extend U.S. citizenship to all international adoptees.
For Crapser, the stakes couldn’t be higher. “Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it,” he said. “I need to stay here for my family. It’s imperative.”
Nothing was decided at Friday’s hearing and Crapser’s attorney said they face a long legal battle ahead. Crapser’s next court hearing is set for June.