Court rejects woman's request to postpone deportation

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The mother of one is married to an American citizen.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a suburban Kansas City mother's request to postpone her deportation order, a penalty she faces because courts found she lied about her citizenship years ago when she crossed the border illegally from Mexico, her attorneys said Friday.

Myrna Dick, 32, is married to an American citizen, and her 19-month-old son was born in the Kansas City area. Dick, who speaks fluent English, was raised in Chihuahua, Mexico, but spent the last two decades in the United States.

Justice Samuel Alito denied the motion for a stay of deportation Friday evening, immediately following the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's rejection of the same request, said Dick's attorney, Michael Sharma-Crawford.

While the high court is still weighing whether to rehear Dick's case, an eventual ruling in her favor still wouldn't necessarily mean the she could return to the United States, Sharma-Crawford said.

'Very disillusioned'

"I'm very disillusioned," Dick said in a telephone interview from San Diego, where she is preparing to leave the country Saturday. "I'm not going to give up, but I just hope that people who have heard the tragedy of our lives will keep on struggling so that immigration laws benefit the many, many families who are in a situation like ours."

The family's case drew national attention in 2004, when Dick, then three months pregnant, was first ordered to leave the country. False claim to citizenship, the charge she faced, carries a penalty of a permanent ban from the United States. A federal judge in Missouri made the unusual decision to stave off Dick's deportation because he said her fetus essentially was an American citizen.

Earlier this week, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency's case against Dick had not changed and that the government's position was supported by numerous courts.

"Our job is to enforce immigration law, and that's what we're doing in this case, and hopefully restoring some integrity to the immigration system," agency spokesman Carl Rusnok said Wednesday.

Dick and her husband, a voice engineer for Sprint Inc., believed they would raise Zachary, their toddler, on a cul-de-sac in Raymore, Mo. But Friday, Dick said the family was preparing to drive across the border Saturday to resettle with family friends in Tijuana.

"Congress doesn't care about what kind of future Zachary will have," she said. "Immigration reform won't work unless they make laws that satisfy American families, because not everyone is going to want to move to Tijuana."

The family is holding out a last hope in an amendment sponsored by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., that could allow illegal immigrants with similar family situations to stay in the country.

The amendment would create a new legal step to require the government to give an additional review to cases involving American children whose parents entered the United States without proper documentation.

"We are still looking to attach it to the immigration bill whenever that comes up, but it also could take a long time," said Danny Rotert, a spokesman for Cleaver.

Even if the measure passed, her lawyers said they did not know whether it would apply to Dick's case.

"I just don't have words to describe the feelings," Sharma-Crawford said. "It sucks."

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