National Security

Kansas military family fights deportation of adopted Korean daughter

A federal appellate court will hear the case of a Kansas military family fighting the deportation of their adopted daughter next month, attorneys for the family said Monday.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 when a critical deadline passed for his now-adopted daughter Hyebin to be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

After he returned from his year long-deployment, Schreiber and wife Soo Jin completed their formal adoption of Hyebin. But she had just turned 17 and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services age limit for a foreign-born adopted child to become a naturalized U.S. citizen is 16.

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When he pursued citizenship for Hyebin, Schreiber had also argued that his legal adoption of Hyebin had made her his legitimized child, which qualified her to pursue a visa as his dependent. USCIS argued that a biological connection was required between parent and child, a position the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas ruled in favor of last September. The family is appealing that decision.

The district court’s decision meant that Hyebin, who is currently in the U.S. legally on a student visa, will have to leave the U.S. after she graduates college. She is expected to graduate this December from the University of Kansas with a degree in chemical engineering.

Schreiber, who served in the military for 27 years, met his wife in Korea in the 1990s while he was deployed there. They took in Hyebin, who is Soo Jin’s niece, as their own daughter when she was 15.

Over the last few months, the family has gotten additional legal help to prepare for their appeal, and are now represented by their original attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford and a team of attorneys from Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. Their case and oral arguments will be heard in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver on Sept. 26.

“Lt. Col. Schreiber served his country his entire career. He is trying to keep his family together,” said senior counsel Robert Friedman, an attorney at Georgetown.

Sharma-Crawford said if the federal appellate court also rules against Hyebin, the family will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tara Copp is the national military and veterans affairs correspondent for McClatchy. She has reported extensively through the Middle East, Asia and Europe to cover defense policy and its impact on the lives of service members. She was previously the Pentagon bureau chief for Military Times and a senior defense analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She is the author of the award-winning book “The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story.”