Blanca Catt was smuggled into the United States from Mexico at the age of 3. Unfortunately, she ended up in the foster care system, and Darren and Lisa Catt adopted Blanca at 8 years old (both U.S. citizens but are now divorced). Blanca should have been granted legal residency at the time of her adoption, but the paper work was not properly processed by Oregon’s Department of Human Services. Additionally, the attorney handling the case, Mark Kramer, advised that the adoptive parents of Blanca would have complied with all immigration policies/ procedures, if they had been adequately advised on what to do.
Blanca graduated from Columbia Christian School in 2009, and she had to painfully watch her classmates leave for college, or get jobs, knowing that she could not do either, because of her situation. Blanca could have attended college, but as an international student, which meant that she would have to pay a higher tuition, with no access to government financial aid, because her citizenship status barred her from receiving government funds.
Blanca lived in fear of being deported back to Mexico, for committing any minor legal infraction such as jay walking. She was stuck in limbo; she could not get a driver’s license, board a plane, train or bus, or join the navy, which was one of her career aspirations. Her case is one of many undocumented immigrants who have grown up in Oregon, graduated from high school, and like Blanca, they will also end up in “immigration limbo”.
If Blanca had to move back to Mexico, it would have been like living in a foreign country, as she did not speak Spanish, nor did she know any of her relatives in Mexico. Moreover, Blanca would have to remain in Mexico for 10 years before returning back to the states.
Blanca applied for a special “U” Visa, which allowed her to stay in the United States, work, and get a driver’s license; this special visa is granted to immigrants who have been victims of crimes. Blanca was abused by her birth mother, which is why she ended up in foster care, so she qualified. With the U Visa, Blanca can get permanent residency status after three years, and citizenship after five additional years. Although this is far better than being deported back to Mexico, Blanca is facing about 10 years of uncertainty. She has received news that she will receive her U Visa around October of next year.
Blanca’s attorney previously filed a $1 million suit against Oregon’s Department of Human Resources last October, claiming that the DHS employees misled Blanca’s parents by failing to tell them that they did not file residency paperwork with immigration. Last month, a judge in Multnomah County Court announced plans to dismiss the suit, on the grounds that too much time had passed between the time Blanca was allegedly wronged, and when she filed the suit. Kramer, Blanca’s attorney may appeal this ruling.
U.S. Immigration info: http://www.local.com/results.aspx?keyword=imigration&location=oregon+or&cid=1571&gid=US_-_Explicit_2