Tara Ammons Cohen's biggest crime isn't a drug trafficking conviction. It's being adopted.
The 37-year-old wife and mother wouldn't be in federal custody awaiting deportation if she were the biological child of Darwin and Jean Ammons. She would likely be back in Omak, having done her prison time for the drug charge.
But because Cohen's American parents adopted her from Mexico when she was 5 months old — and then relied on faulty legal advice — Cohen could be barred from the United States forever.
Cohen is not a U.S. citizen. She's not even a permanent legal resident. In 1972, when the Ammonses rescued her from a Mexican orphanage, citizenship didn't attach at adoption; adoptive parents had to apply for it.
The Ammonses were told differently, and it wasn't until just a few years ago that Cohen found out she wasn't a citizen.
The ramifications of her legal status became clear after she was convicted of drug trafficking for stealing a neighbor's purse and telling cops she planned to sell the prescription drugs inside.
Drug trafficking is a surefire way to attract the attention of immigration officials. Last July, immigration agents picked Cohen up as she left a Spokane prison. She's been at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma ever since.
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