Shou Feng Zheng, a Spokane mother who faced deportation to her native People’s Republic of China, won a last-minute stay Tuesday, allowing her to remain in the United States for one year while she makes another plea for asylum.
Zheng credited a public outcry about her impending deportation for persuading the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to grant her the stay.
A group of about 30 friends and family members gathered outside ICE offices in Tukwila, Wash., on Tuesday morning while she and her attorney appeared before an immigration officer.
Zheng, 28, had been ordered to appear with her bags packed, ready for removal from the country, after several unsuccessful appeals for asylum.
Her New York City attorney, Theodore Cox, recently filed a motion to reopen her case based on China’s increased enforcement of its one-child family planning policy.
If she is repatriated to her native Changle City in Fujian province, she fears she will face “fines, forced sterilization, imprisonment and torture,” according to documents filed with the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review Board of Immigration Appeals.
Zheng – a waitress known as Vicky at the Hong Kong Express on Division Street – feared that her husband, Xue Ting Lin, would be unable to care for their two U.S.-born children, Shirley, 6, and Terence, 3, because of a brain injury he sustained in a car crash.
Zheng entered the U.S. without proper documentation around Oct. 30, 2001, and immediately was denied political asylum by an immigration judge. Successive appeals also were denied.
Zheng’s latest appeal is based on “new and previously unavailable evidence” that enforcement of China’s “despotic” family planning laws, while once “lax and uneven” in Fujian province, now are strictly enforced, according to the motion filed by her lawyer.
“She would have a high likelihood of forced sterilization because her children are considered Chinese citizens even though they have U.S. passports,” Cox said, adding that she also would be fined and possibly jailed for violating the one-child policy.