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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Immigrant mother makes one last plea to stay

Shirley Lin, age 6, begins to cry as she hears her mother Shou Feng Zheng talk of her fear of being deported to China on Friday October 15, 2010. (Christopher Anderson)
An immigrant mother of two young children faces deportation next week unless she can win an 11th-hour stay based on deteriorating human rights conditions in her native China. “If I go to China, I will go to jail and be fixed so I can’t have more babies,” said Shou Feng Zheng, who has been ordered by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to report to a deportation officer in Tukwila, Wash., on Tuesday for immediate removal from the United States. Zheng, 28, who arrived in the United States in 2001, sought asylum and recently lost her case, has filed a motion to reopen her case based on China’s increased enforcement of the communist nation’s 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. She will leave behind in northeast Spokane a 6-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy, both U.S. citizens by birth, and a husband, Xue Ting Lin. Among her greatest concerns is that her husband, a Chinese national who has legal residency in the United States, will not be able to care for the children because traumatic brain injury resulting from a car crash has left him cognitively impaired. He is able to hold down a restaurant job, but he suffers from gaps in memory and concentration, she said. The couple’s son has asthma, and Zheng worries that Lin will not be able to consistently remember to administer the boy’s nebulizer treatments. “He cannot handle taking care of the kids, because he always forgets,” Zheng said. On Sept. 30, Zheng received a “bag and baggage letter” from ICE ordering her to appear on Tuesday before a deportation officer with no more than 40 pounds of baggage. “Please ensure someone is available to take custody of your children if you choose to bring them to this appointment,” reads the letter, which comes near the end of an arduous and so far unsuccessful effort by Zheng to remain in the United States. She arrived in the United States around Oct. 30, 2001, and was immediately denied political asylum by an immigration judge in New York. Her appeal was dismissed on June 2, 2003. Her motion to reopen proceedings based on fear of religious persecution was denied on Oct. 31, 2008. A motion to reconsider was denied on May 14, 2009. Earlier this month, her New York attorney, Theodore N. Cox, filed a motion with the Board of Immigration Appeal to reopen Zheng’s case and remand removal proceedings against her based on “new and previously unavailable evidence.” According to the motion, enforcement of China’s “despotic” family planning laws, while once “lax and uneven” in Fujian Province are now strictly enforced. “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. If Zheng is deported, Cox said, she would be required to wait 10 years before applying to return to the United States. In the motion, Cox wrote that Zheng is trapped in a political and diplomatic conundrum of inconsistent and sometimes conflicting U.S. reporting of human rights abuses in China. On the one hand, Congress is hostile toward these abuses and insists on detailed reporting, he said. But the State Department, which is mandated to write such reports, must also maintain relations with the world’s most populous nation and America’s largest creditor. As a result, Cox wrote, “the State Department reports throw a smokescreen of inconsistent information about the coerciveness of family planning enforcement” in China. Zheng, refusing to believe the nation she turned to for asylum would cast her out, intends to plead her case to the deportation officer with family and friends in tow on Tuesday. “I think they will give me one more chance when they see my family and my children crying,” she said. Cox said such a decision would be left to the discretion of the immigration officer. “It’s not unheard of for them to grant a stay of removal,” the attorney said.