DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Adam Lieber is frightened because his days in the United States are numbered.
“I’d really like them to grant me citizenship,” the 24-year-old said. “I was raised here, I went to school here.”
But after living in Dallas since he was a baby, Lieber could be deported to the Philippines any day now.
“I’ve been here too long for them to just tell me to pack up and go to someplace, I don’t know,” he said.
Lieber’s situation began in 2010, when he was arrested for drunken driving. While jailed in Dallas County, he said an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent discovered he was undocumented, and told him he would have to be deported.
“I was terrified,” he said. “I was scared out of my mind.”
Lieber pled guilty, served time in jail and signed a voluntary departure notice as his lawyer then suggested. He agreed to leave the country by last Thursday, and then would be allowed to return once he could get a visa.
But earlier last week, his new attorney, Arturo Rodriguez, and advocate Ralph Isenberg filed an emergency application with ICE in an effort to delay Lieber’s departure.
In their note, they told ICE this is an “extreme family separation.”
Lieber’s mother is stunned.
“For me, it is the most inconceivable thing in the world that this could happen,” Marci Lieber said.
She has congestive heart failure, kidney failure and vision loss. She depends on her son for help.
“I think if he gets deported, I don’t know what would happen to me,” Marci Lieber said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it killed me.”
To understand why the Liebers are in this predicament, you have to go back to Adam’s birth.
His mother said she adopted him when he was just 11-months-old. Her father made the arrangements, adopting Adam from the Phillipines.
Adam Lieber said Marci is the only mother he’s ever known.
“She’s my mother,” he said. “She’s been there when I first realized who I was. She’s been there when she took me to my first day of school. She’s been there every step of the way.”
Lieber’s mother said the social security number her father gave her for her son years ago turned out to be her nephew’s.
She said she recently went to the social security office to get a number for Adam.
“The social security person said you can’t do it based on a birth certificate. You have to do it on a formal adoption decree,” she said. “And that sort of opened the door on the nightmare we’re living.”
Marci Lieber believes she adopted Adam legally.
“Why at this point in my life will I be losing my son for something that was done without any evil intent?” she asked.
“I don’t know what would happen if I were to leave now,” Adam said.
It’s all he thinks about: “I don’t know who would take care of her,” he said of his mother.
An ICE spokesman said the agency is now reviewing the facts of the case. In the meantime, Lieber is wearing an ankle monitor and his case is now considered a final order of deportation.
That means he could have to leave the country for up to five years before he can return.
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