Amid illegal immigration tension, deportation case sparks outcry
Nadia Habib came to the United States as a baby from Bangladesh and has never known her native country. But she may be ordered to go back there when she appears before a judge Thursday in New York, where the case is being cited by activists as an example of immigration policies gone awry.
"I'd be an American in a foreign country," the 19-year-old told reporters before the hearing, where protesters were expected to hold a rally in support of Habib and her mother, who also faces deportation. If they were sent back to Bangladesh, they would leave behind Nadia's father and her three U.S.-born siblings.
The case comes amid heightened attention nationwide to the issue of illegal immigrants, and particularly their children, who are in this country illegally but who were too young when they arrived to do anything about their undocumented status. The Republican presidential hopefuls have used the issue to target rival Rick Perry, the Texas governor who supports letting children of undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities rather than the far more expensive out-of-state fees.
Last month, the Obama administration said it planned to review the cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation to identify "low-priority" offenders who were not considered a danger to society and who might be allowed to stay in the United States after all. But they are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis -- a process that appears to be moving too slowly to help Habib and her mother, Nazmin, whose appeal to remain in the United States was rejected earlier this month.
At that hearing, Nadia Habib, who attends Stony Brook University on Long Island, east of New York City, and her mother were ordered to appear Thursday for a final hearing and possible deportation. "When they tell you to come with your passport and 50 pounds of baggage, they want you to come ready to leave," Habib told reporters earlier this week.
The New York State Youth Leadership Council, an advocacy group, has taken up the cause.
Habib's mother brought her to the United States when the girl was 20 months old, But even as Habib's father obtained his green card, his wife never got hers. Habib said she did not learn of her illegal status until she was in high school and was granted financial aid for college. At that time, she was asked to show documents proving her citizenship. Advocates say the mother and daughter have tried for 11 years to obtain legal status.
The pair spent Wednesday night packing their bags in their home in the New York City borough of Queens and speaking with the media. Supporters planned a rally outside the Manhattan federal building where the final hearing was scheduled later Thursday.
-- Tina Susman in New York