AURORA, Colo. — An Aurora family is scrambling to figure out how to keep their 4-year-old daughter in the United States.
Angela Becerra starts pre-kindergarten on Monday. Three weeks into her new school year, though, she will be legally at risk of being deported.
Her parents, Amy and Marco Becerra, are U.S. citizens. Marco Becerra also has citizenship in Peru, where he is originally from.
Amy Becerra works for the State of Colorado and Marco Becerra works for the federal government.
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.
Angela was abandoned at birth. Her mother was developmentally disabled and unable to care for her.
“[Her mother] was treated like a dog. She was chained to the table and sex-trafficked. That’s the reality. No running water. No electricity. Very little food,” 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.
“The unique thing about Angela’s adoption is it’s not an international adoption. It’s a domestic adoption in Peru,” Amy Becerra said.
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.
“We wanted her to have the opportunities that are available here, the education that’s available here. The American dream,” Amy Becerra said.
That is when she says their dream turned into a nightmare.
In March 2017, Amy accepted a job in Colorado and moved back with the understanding that her husband and daughter would be a few weeks behind her.
However, Angela’s immigration application kept hitting roadblocks that delayed her case.
She was unable to travel to the United States because the U.S. does not grant travel visas to anyone with a current immigration application.
The Becerras had to stay in Peru for 13 months before a visa was granted. Angela came to the United States for the first time in March.
“So she has a visa. She’s here on a tourist visa that expires Aug. 31,” Amy Becerra said.
Less than a month before it expires, Angela’s immigration case has been denied.
“We’re both citizens. My husband and I have a full legal binding adoption completed and we have a birth certificate that lists no other parent,” Amy Becerra said.
“I don’t know what it takes to reopen a case. Once it’s closed, it’s closed.”
There is an appeals process, but it likely cannot be completed in the next three weeks before Angela’s tourist visa expires.
“If she expires her visa, she is officially here as an undocumented alien. And legally is at risk for deportation even though both her parents are citizens,” Amy Becerra said.
She says either they all have to permanently move back to Peru together or else risk raising Angela in the U.S. without papers.
“It’s inconceivable that a child of two citizen parents would have to live out their life as an undocumented alien in this country,” Amy Becerra said.
In the meantime, Angela has no access to health insurance or other benefits of American citizenship.
The family said it has reached out to immigration attorneys but has been unsuccessful in figuring out why Angela’s case has been denied.
A letter explaining the decision should be available within the next few weeks.