CHAPEL HILL - A policy change that could defer deportation for an estimated 1.2 million young people brought to the United States against the law appears to rule out a local woman whose parents brought her legally.
Sumedha Gupta plans to returns to India on Tuesday, a country she left just shy of her fourth birthday 19 years ago. The aspiring filmmaker is one of an unknown number of foreign-born children who age off their parents visas.
The change in immigration policy covered young people who entered the country illegally before June 15 or whose lawful immigration status expired by then.
Guptas legal status did not expire until July 28, according to the family and an immigration document.
It makes no sense to expel talented young people, who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans, President Obama said in June. The new policy lets those brought here before their 16th birthday and who meet other conditions ask to stay an additional two years and apply for work authorization.
In a speech, the president said he hoped the measure would serve as a bridge to passage of the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for those who qualify.On my way out
Gupta, who turned 23 Saturday, was already planning to leave the country once the year after college plus 60 days the government gives immigrant students like her ended July 28.
She and her parents, Rajneesh and Nutan Gupta of Chapel Hill, put that plan on hold when Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But Aug. 3, the federal government clarified that the policy change applies only to those who were here illegally by the June 15 cut-off. Gupta was still a legal resident at that time, she said.
Im on my way out, a resigned Gupta said last week. But just because Im on my way out doesnt mean this shouldnt be brought to light. It is a broken system.
Rajneesh Gupta said immigration lawyers advised their daughter to leave the country because staying could make it harder, if she ever left, to get back in. Theyve since contacted federal lawmakers.
Cases like hers, they live in the bureaucratic cracks, Rajneesh Gupta said. They dont get noticed.
In a statement a spokesman for U.S. Rep. David Price said the congressmans office is gathering information.
On Ms. Guptas behalf, Rep. Price will be asking USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) to explore whether her case is a candidate for prosecutorial discretion, which the agency has exercised in the past in cases where an individual poses no threat to public safety or national security, spokesman Andrew High said.
(Price) believes the Administrations Deferred Action plan was the right thing to do, High continued. But theres no question this case further highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform. East of Eden
Gupta says she knew she wanted a career in moviemaking at 17, after seeing James Dean in East of Eden.
She wants to tell stories and says she has a lot to tell. A two-year stay, she said, could help give her the work experience she needs to apply to film school and someday for permanent legal residence.
Shes still hopeful but is not taking any chances.
I dont think Id be deported, but I dont ever want to get to that point, she said.
I am going to be an American one day, but its going to take a long time under this immigration system, she said.
A spokesman for USCIS said he did not know how many young people brought here legally like Gupta might be affected by the federal policy change. He said he could not comment on her case, but repeated that the office, part of the Department of Homeland Security, prioritizes its efforts.
As part of DHS overall effort to focus enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a threat to public safety or national security, ICE has the authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion on cases that do not fall within the Departments priorities, Peter Boogaard said by email.
That said, only Congress can provide a permanent solution to fix the broken immigration system, he said.