An Army veteran’s adopted daughter missed a deadline for immigration because he was serving in Afghanistan. Now she is being deported back to Korea.
Former Army Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber served his country for 27 years. He jumped with the 82nd Airborne Division into Panama during Operation Just Cause. He served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Iraq. And he was deployed to Afghanistan as the director of military intelligence for the 4th Infantry Division at RC-South before retiring from the military.
Schreiber and his wife Soo Jin welcomed daughter Hyebin into their family before his last deployment to Afghanistan in 2013, and made the adoption legal as soon as he returned.
Hyebin was 17 at the time, and legally recognized as Schreiber’s daughter in Kansas, but according to U.S. immigration law foreign-born adopted children do not automatically become naturalized citizens unless they are 16 or younger.
“We filed the proper paperwork where Kansas recognizes she is my legal daughter bar at 18. And then you have this other immigration law or policy that sets the bar at 15. I was talking with immigration. Where is she going to go?” Schreiber told KCTV.
That means Schreiber’s daughter has to leave the country.
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“It tears me apart, the idea that our family would be separated,” Schreiber told 41 Action News.
A federal in Kansas ruled in favor of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services law, the Military Times reports, and will not bend the rules for Hyebin. She will be permitted to finish out her chemical engineering degree at the University of Kansas, but then she has to go.
“After graduation, I should be looking for a job. Right now, I don’t know what’s going to be happening, so I’m trying to find a job both in Korea and the United States, so it’s kind of a lot of work for me,” Hyebin told 41 Action News.
According to USA Today, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree’s ruling asserts that the federal immigration law is fairly cut and dry, and that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “interpreted the statue in accordance with its plain meaning.”
“As I tell my daughter, life isn’t fair,” Schreiber said. “The main thing is to be resilient.”
Schreiber met Soo Jin while serving in Korea with the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment during the late ’90s. Hyebin was originally Soo Jin’s niece, but she was welcomed into the Schrieber family when life in Korea started to get rough.
“There were problems between her biological mother and father (mom sighs) things were deteriorating so to say,” Schreiber told KCTV.
Life in the states is about to get rough, too, but the family has no intentions of splitting up. Schreiber and Soo Jin are appealing the court’s decision. If their appeal is not granted, they intend to follow their daughter to Korea.
“It was disappointing, but we’ve always known this is not the end of the road,” family attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford told the Military Times. “But it’s still hard on this family.”
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.