Saturday, February 11, 2006

If Only She Could Skate...

Two different standards? Wow, this is really shocking, isn't it?

In December Congress speedily passed special immigration legislation to benefit just one person: an ice dancer. As a Canadian, she couldn't join the 2006 U.S. Olympics team. But a law was written that lasted exactly two days, long enough for her to be fast-tracked for citizenship and sent to compete for the United States.

Around the same time, we at the Safe Harbor Project at Brooklyn Law School received notice that the U.S. immigration system had denied entry to Teresa, a 14-year-old African girl who has been stranded as a refugee in Guinea almost all her life. She is trying to join her adoptive mother, Momara (no real names are used here, as is generally practiced with asylum), a refugee from Sierra Leone who was granted asylum in the United States.

Teresa's harrowing story began when she was born in the bush, where everyone from her town had fled to escape rampaging rebel forces threatening to kill them. Her birth mother died giving birth to her. Without a second thought, Momara scooped up the infant and from that moment on considered Teresa her own.


Since she is not Momara's biological child, she can qualify for a visa only with proof that she is adopted. The Department of Homeland Security denied her application because she does not have an "official adoption decree" from Sierra Leone.


The country does not have a functioning government, much less a formalized adoption procedure.

Maybe if the girl tried out for the US track team...


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