Trump Administration Reverses Adopted Peruvian Girl's Citizenship Denial

Two American citizens adopted a Peruvian toddler legally under Peruvian law, but the United States had denied the girl U.S. citizenship status.

Published Aug 14, 2018

Updated Aug 16, 2018
 (Constantine Pankin / Shutterstock)
Image Via Constantine Pankin / Shutterstock

This post has been updated.

On 9 August 2018, Denver television station KDVR reported on Amy and Marco Becerra’s struggle to keep their four-year-old adopted Peruvian daughter, Angela, in America following the United States Immigration and Customs Service’s (USICS) decision to deny the girl citizenship — a decision that was reversed on 15 August 2018. Prior to USICS' amended decision, the Beccera's issue was quickly turned into an Internet meme:

The Becerras had owned a home in Peru, where Marco also holds citizenship, and had spent four years there before selling the home and returning to Colorado, where Amy works for the State of Colorado and Marco works for the U.S. federal government. During their time in Peru, the couple fostered and then legally adopted (under Peruvian law) a baby who had been left at a local orphanage when she was 11 days old:

The couple also own a home in Peru and decided to move there for a few years before selling it. While they were in Peru, their daughter Angela was born on May 23, 2014. “She was 11 days old when she was brought to the orphanage,” Amy Becerra said.

A woman from the orphanage suggested the Becerras foster the newborn.“She literally placed this little 5-pound baby in our hands and said do you think you guys can take care of her?” Amy Becerra said. Of course, they said yes. Angela’s adoption was finalized in Peruvian court in April 2017. At that point, the Becerras decided it was time for their family to move back to Colorado.

The trip back to the U.S. with a newly adopted girl proved to be an administrative nightmare, Amy Becerra told KDVR. Ultimately, they were able to return to the United States with Angela on a tourist visa, but that visa expires on 31 August 2018. Now they have been informed that Angela’s citizenship case has been denied, which would put her at risk of deportation just as she begins her first days of pre-kindergarten: "They don’t know why, and are not even sure if they can appeal. The big issue is Angela’s VISA expires at the end of the month. At that point, she will be an undocumented immigrant, and could face deportation."

The denial was rooted in international laws surrounding adoptions, the Denver Post reported:

The U.S. reviews adoptions from certain foreign countries through the lens of The Hague Adoption Convention, an international treaty that the U.S. says “provides important safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents and adoptive parents who are involved in intercountry adoptions.”

Since KDVR’s initial reporting, Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican from Colorado’s 6th district, took up the case, asserting that it is a clear mistake which requires rectification:

I personally met with Mrs. Becerra regarding her case, and since then my office has been focused in getting answers. I will have a face-to-face meeting with the USCIS regional director on Wednesday: meanwhile all documentation has been requested from the U.S. Embassy in Lima and the State Department in Washington. I have full confidence that once this case is reviewed closely we will have good news for the family -- Angela is not going anywhere.

On 15 August 2018, the Denver Post reported that Mike Coffman's efforts were a success:

USCIS spokesman Michael Bars said his office couldn’t comment on the specifics of the Becerra case except to say that “given the complexities of this case and after additional review of foreign legal documents at issue in this case, we decided to reopen the petition and subsequently approved it earlier today.”


Updated [16 August 2018]: Updated to reflect that USCIS reversed their initial denial of citizenship to Angela Becerra.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.