Deportation to Mexico ordered for woman adopted as a child

A federal immigration judge has ordered a 38-year-old woman adopted by an American couple from Mexico when she was 5 months old to be deported back to her native country.

Tara Ammons Cohen, who has been in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma since July 8, 2009, has been fighting to stay in America ever since. She fears being deported to Mexico – where she hasn’t lived since she was an infant, doesn’t speak the language and knows no one – would place her in danger.

“Basically, the judge found her not eligible for withholding of removal (deportation) and found it more likely than not she wouldn’t be persecuted” in Mexico, her attorney, Manuel Rios of Seattle, said Thursday.

Immigration laws do not recognize adoption as a special circumstance in deportations.

Judge Tammy Fitting’s ruling essentially denied every aspect of Cohen’s appeal except to agree that a drug conviction that led to her deportation problem was not a serious crime requiring her automatic removal.

Cohen’s predicament was the subject of a News Tribune story in March that detailed her odyssey from adoption as a baby in a Mexico orphanage to her troubles with the law in 2008 that led to her detention in Tacoma by immigration officials.

The ruling this week stunned Cohen and Rios. After an October hearing, both had hoped she might be home with her husband and two young children in Omak for the holidays.

“I’m devastated,” Cohen said Thursday in a telephone interview from the detention center. “My husband (Jay) is appalled by the system and angry the system says his wife is not going to be in danger if she goes back to Mexico.

“I know nothing about Mexico.”

Cohen said that despite the immigration laws, she feels she is as American as anyone else is this country because she was brought here by her American parents and raised as an American.

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