A Story of Adoption, Religion, and Deportation (Revised)

Every now and then I come across an article that seems to pack in as many social issues as possible. This particular story on the impending deportation of a 25-year-old Indian man in Utah has several interesting angles on the subject’s predicament. International adoptee? Check. Religious minority? Check. Juvenile delinquent? Check. Confused young person who made some really bad decisions and tried to play the victim card? Errr, check, check, and uh, check.

Samuel Jonathan Schultz was born in India and adopted at age 3 by a Utah woman. His adopted mother apparently failed to complete his application for US citizenship upon his arrival to the US.

As a teenager, Schultz got in trouble with the law on numerous occasions. At the age of 18, he was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle (he claims that his friend stole the car and that he was simply on his way to return it). A year later, he was convicted again for car theft. Then there are the offenses that he committed as a juvenile:

Samuel Schultz has a juvenile record of theft offenses and engaged in altercations as a teen with his stepfather that occasionally required police intervention.

Because of his two adult convictions and his citizenship status, immigration authorities at Utah State Prison ordered that Schultz be deported.

But wait, there’s more. Schultz sought to appeal the deportation order because:

As a Christian in general, and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular, he believes he will be targeted for persecution [in India].

More importantly,

The 25-year-old knows little about the nation of his birth, speaks only English and believes he would have to live on the streets there, according to court documents.

The appeals judge, however, refused to reverse the deportation order and had this to say:

“He has not shown that people of the Mormon faith are routinely persecuted by the government or people operating outside the government,” Vandello stated in his ruling. “There are random acts of persecution of Christians and also of other religions, as far as that goes, even the majority religions on occasion.”

Ok. There’s a lot of baggage here to be unpacked. Is Schultz a victim of circumstance? No, I think he does deserve to serve time in prison. Is he rightfully terrified of having to relocate to India? After some consideration, yes. Does he deserve to be deported over his two felony convictions? I don’t know. But I’ll ask my fellow mutineers to weigh in.

111 thoughts on “A Story of Adoption, Religion, and Deportation (Revised)

  1. That is such a good point Al M. People, please. Privacy is important, but not more important that treatment. What matters is getting someone into rehab and being there for them. After that, it’s up to them, but ‘hiding’ things and creating a greater sense of shame may only make matters worse. Addicts are incredibly suspceptible to feelings of shame.

  2. the sympathy point is misplaced. the critical issue is not whether you feel bad for this person, but whether someone, who is a criminal, should be given an additional sanction for something they had no control over. I’m not sure what goals of the criminal justice system are advanced by punishing this guy for his mother’s incompetence. and from a foreign policy standpoint, I find it troubling that the United States is willing to deport an American criminal on a technicality to India. The United States should bear the burden of paying for his incarceration. He was punished under our criminal justice system, for crimes he committed in our country, and for conduct we are trying to deter here and not abroad. Why should India pay for this?

  3. And why should the US pay for the criminals exported here by other countries (which is not quite the case here)? Which, to an extent, is our fault for having such a disorganized and poorly run immigration system, but it plays both ways.

  4. Sales – be it for cars, electronic appliances, hotels, clubs, or doing some kind of HR kinda of work for outsourcing outfits. In all honesty, he could land up with a very decent job in Delhi/ Bangalore/ Mumbai using his English language skills. Sure, somebody has to give him a break, maybe through one of the charitable Christian organizations in India might give him the first one, and be his under writer. English skills in India can take you really far.

    The person has a criminal record a CONVICTION, I doubt any call centre will hire him for that. Most people who break laws in India dont have a criminal record or convictions.

    Plus most people who work in Indian call centres have a Bachelors Degree or working towards one. To get into HR work you need a Masters degree.

    I was in India recently and Standard Chareted bank needed commerce graduates for teller positions.

    Forget honest jobs, he speaks English, the best he can do is go to Goa deal drugs.

  5. Vivek: I suspect that the rules would be governed by the US-India treaty.

    Folks, the LDS – and all American missionary organizations – have a substantial enough presence in India. He need only hook up with them for the time being. He will easily get a job in a call center, as his accent makes him “better qualified” than all Indians! And make no mistake: they are looking for bodies, the more the better. There are loads of Europeans,Americans and Australians working in call centers; it helps them pay their bills while they go searching for sex or enlightenment or both. Then he could rent his own flat, find a nice girlfriend, etc. In the long term, if he reforms himself and finds his god, he would probably make a fine missionary. (It is very hard for foreign born missionaries to get visas in India; everyone has been forced to go native.) Or he could work in retail in any major city.

    Chances are he will save up, make his way to Mexico and cross back into the states. I doubt he would stay.

  6. This is why poor people shouldn’t be adopting children..

    What exactly is the procedure for being deported ? Do they fly you on a military jet and then simply leave you at the airport of the other country or do they leave you at the Indian embassy or something ???

    If he does end up being deported to India, I think the Indian government should help him get a job.

  7. Coach, he was 3 when he was adopted. The fact that his adoptive parent didn’t make sure he was technically an American doesn’t change the fact that by all other standards he is an American.

    Deporting him is the same as saying 3 yr olds are responsible for their own immigration status.

  8. This is no different from someone on the street telling you to go to where you have come from just because you look a particular way. He was adopted at the age of 3 for crying out loud, America is all he knows, trying to send him to India is absolutely ridiculous.

    Kush, I really don’t think he has any future in India despite his English language skills, the bleak image you have of the industry hiring practices is appalling, even in the much maligned call centers, you have to be at least a college graduate to get a job. With his skills it is highly unlikely that his ascent to the top of the ladder will be as easy as you make it out to be.

  9. It seems this woman didn’t care too much about the three year old she adopted, and nobody has ever called her to account as a parent.

    Sai, Yeah, I saw that column. Still mulling over it. :)

    Dana Parsons totally doesn’t get that if he writes about South Asians online, he gets a South Asian audience, no matter where it’s located — which is odd, since his MO, as that of other people like him, depends on his being able to talk behind his subjests’ backs. He also doesn’t get that people unconnected to his OC professor are also doing work in that area. It’s good that he’s on the defensive, but of course he still hasn’t told us what deals his cousin was cutting at those important meetings in Mumbai or whether that cousin’s activities will contribute to the skewed distribution of wealth in India.

    Looking forward to your response, Naina! :)

  10. The guy should obviously argue that he is an American. Not that he shouldn’t be deported. He was adopted, was raised in the US and believed i belonged there.

    A douche bag he might be and deserves to serve time, but think about it this is as if some one had deported one of us to Ghana.

    On the otherhand, he should probably be happy about the deportation, the next time it would be three strikes and out.

  11. but think about it this is as if some one had deported one of us to Ghana.

    You’re absolutely right, it must be that scary for him. He doesn’t deserve this.

  12. Alert: Unrelated , but important !!! Naina’s post about Dana Parson’s column has been rebutted by the Dana Parsons in LA times!!!

  13. even in the much maligned call centers, you have to be at least a college graduate to get a job.

    There are many levels of call centers in India. From large enterprises run by MNCs with stricter scrutiny and qualification standards to small, fifty-seat “mom and pop” operations run by entrepreneurs (often returning NRIs). The truth is there is one major qualification for the job; he has it. The demand is fierce. I am certain he could get in.

  14. Has it occured to you guys that this person is not really “get a job” and settle down kind?? Whether or not he can get a job in India is irrelevant as I dont think this guy seeks one. If at 25 he hasnt had a job in the US (unemp 4.5%) than what makes you think that he will look for a job in India?? There are cars in India too, you know, to be stolen !!

  15. RC,

    You are absolutely correct and I apologize for the digression. The issue at hand is the craziness of the situation for the guy.

    Risible,

    I am fully aware of the different kinds of Call Centers and for his qualification for getting a job, it is a discussion for another board.

  16. what makes you think that he will look for a job in India?? There are cars in India too, you know, to be stolen !!

    The only difference is, if he tries to steal those, he still has nothing to do with them (what’s he going to do? drive back to America?) and if he gets caught, he’ll have more than just the police to deal with. And what’s all this about it being too hard for him to pick up a local dialect? If he’s got English down, he can at least communicate with people and eventually pick up another language. It isn’t unheard of; just look at Mexican immigrants in Spanish-speaking communities in California. I still have little sympathy for him. Regardless of how much a baby some people would like to believe he is, the law is the law. I’m sure he would have known by at least age 17 that he wasn’t a citizen. That alone should’ve been a hint to him to cool down and watch his actions, especially after 9/11 happened. By simply making an exception because he’s such a poor little baby, it only encourages his behavior(ie. petty theft, lack of job..etc.).

  17. Has it occured to you guys that this person is not really “get a job” and settle down kind??

    Yeah sure RC. My initial reaction was that he’d turn up in the Mumbai mafia. If he’s bright and has some decent survival skills, he could probably deal smack to the thousands of Israelis who turn up in Goa to unwind after their mandatory millitary service – and make much more money than a call center drone, as someone mentioned above. The possibilities are endless; the world exists for the takers.

    If he wants to get back to the states he just has to make his way to somewhere in Central America. From there to Mexico, and then freight train or bus to the Arizona desert – surviving a night with rattle snakes, wild turkeys and one bottle of water.

  18. Shouldn’t there be some kind of law that if you are adopting a child from another country you ought to process their papers promptly for citizenship? How unstable is it for a kid to be plucked from an orphanage (or wherever), brought to a completely new country as a toddler and then inform him years later that he isn’t even a citizen. Citizenship status needs to be a strict criteria for adoption. Lot’s of people get messed up around those late teen years and it is the responsibility of the state to straighten things out — that is the state that he grew up in NOT one he’s never really seen. A US returned, adopted felon with white parents who can’t speak Hindi. Show some compassion Mr. Judge, its lent.

  19. this is totally appalling that they want to deport him. whatever happened to your tired, your weary…? and at any rate, his mother should take some of the responsibility for bringing him here and then (a) not filling out the paperwork properly, and (b) raising him in an environment that allowed him to reach less than his potential. if they want to deport him, they should deport her too. Too many americans are isolationist and complacent about what happens to non-legal residents and immigrants. if there were consequences for citizens, too, maybe we’d rethink our attitude towards others.

  20. sohwhat, I don’t understand what you are trying to say? Citizens, by definition, are different from non-legal residents (i.e., illegal immigrants). Immigration is a hugely complicated issue (underscored by this case). I would say the huge interest in the immigration issue shows that Americans are not complacent, but rather troubled by a largely dysfunctional system. And last time I checked there were consequences for citizens: I don’t think American citizens are allowed to steal cars. I’m pretty sure they put citizens in jail, too. As for deportation, lots of people want to come to the US. Why should a law breaker that a spot that a more deserving person should get? I don’t think this young man should necessarily be deported, but he shouldn’t have broken the law. And it sounds like he got chances to get his act together and didn’t. It’s his responsibility; he’s 25.

  21. By the way, this may be hard for desi parents to understand, but bad kids sometimes happen to good parents. Not saying she was a good parent, but it’s not always the parents fault when a kid ‘goes bad’.

  22. whatever happened to your tired, your weary…?

    You forgot … your white (or to be accurate your west europeans)

    It is the adoptee’s fault. Why didnt he insist to his mother about his citizenship?? So what if he was 3?? This is a nation of laws. When he was asking for icecream and coockies (at age 4), instead he should have asked for citizenship papers. He must understand, he is NOT american like his parents. If his parents break the law, they are not going to be deported to Northern Europe.

  23. All

    The US has been deporting 100,000s of convicted naturalized citizens back to their countries of origin. This has been going on for about 8-9 years now. Even if you currently hold a US passport but if you were born elesewhere, if you commit a felony, deportation hearings will be started against you. Yes, I know there are people who have managed to escape this but believe me, a substantial amount have not. (It is cruel and inhuman but it is the law.)

    There are two holding facilities: one in New Mexico and one in Arizona.

    This is the result of one of the anti-immigrant laws passed something like 9-10 years ago. The ACLU has been fighting it without much success.

    Under this particular law, Schultz would still be deported even if he held an American passport.

    sp

  24. @Floridian “A Shantaram story in reverse if he is sent back to India.” Quite possible that he will be prone to repeat his behavior in India in the event he is eventually deported. I had the very same thought while reading the post.

    And I too echo the sentiment expressed earlier that this fellow is essentially an American; to him, India is probably a foreign country in all respects. It’s different when someone is 2nd generation and has ties back to India (visits, family, friends, etc.)

  25. “From there to Mexico, and then freight train or bus to the Arizona desert – surviving a night with rattle snakes, wild turkeys and one bottle of water. “

    Risible those wild turkeys are no joke…hella mean

  26. I think he may have a bigger issue with his “Suave” looks. Seriously, the only things they need to deport are his hair and pubic stache.

  27. “It is the adoptee’s fault. Why didnt he insist to his mother about his citizenship?? So what if he was 3?? This is a nation of laws. When he was asking for icecream and coockies (at age 4), instead he should have asked for citizenship papers. He must understand, he is NOT american like his parents. If his parents break the law, they are not going to be deported to Northern Europe.”

    Are you serious…?

  28. Adoptive parent stepping onto platform…

    For those who are questioning how Mr. Scholutz came into this country but is not a citizen, let me explain:

    Non-Hindu foreigners adopting from India do not have a full and final adoption in India. Hindus may adopt in the Indian courts under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. Non-Hindus may receive guardianship from the courts under the Guardians and Wards Act. You can bring a child you have guardianship of into the U.S. for the purposes of adoption on an IR-4 Visa. The child receives a green card. At present, that child does not become an American citizen until the adoption is finalized in the U.S. court system (length of time before that can happen differs from state to state, but generally it can be done within a year of guardianship).

    The Indian government currently requires that all foreign adoptive parents finalize their children’s adoptions abroad within 2 years of guardianship to avoid precisely this scenario (if it’s not completed by that time, by law the sponsoring adoption agency is required to take custody of the child and work oon an alternative placement). However, this was not always the case. Before the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (signed into law by Clinton), children who had full and final adoptions abroad (came in on an IR-3 visa) and those who came in under guardianship (IR-4 visa) were not automatically granted citizenship – their parents had to apply for such (or themselves, once they reached adulthood). Some (perhaps many?) adoptive parents just never took this step for whatever reason – time, expense, lack of knowledge, or just not caring about it.

    My view: this man should be in an American jail, not deported. Yes, he could have applied for citizenship after he reached adulthood. But I’ve heard of too many situations where adult international adoptees presumed their parents did everything appropriately and that they had citizenship, only to find out the hard way that they did not (and not only because of criminal histories – some merely when going to apply for a U.S. passport and finding out they didn’t have the documents that entitled them to one).

    Stepping down off platform…

  29. glass houses:

    Risible those wild turkeys are no joke…hella mean

    I’ve heard! I have an undocumented buddy from Central America who traversed the desert to get here. The great danger with snakes is stepping on one. Generally they will turn the other way and book if spotted by a horde of people. But the turkeys are a different story: they are unafraid, and will bite your ass.

    The bus “programs” give you one bottle of water at the drop off; generally its a good idea to bring more. The trains are good, but people fall asleep and fall right off, killing themselves.

  30. The Mara Salvatrucha issue underlines the inter-connectdness between immigration (legal or otherwise) and the disparities that exist in this hemisphere. Many of the Maras are children of illegal immigrants and those who used the amnesty and TPS programs who created their own gangs based on a self-identified need for community, exclusion from U.S. society, and lack of supportive family structure, and a failure of individual responsibility. But it’s not an easy task to find a root cause, and I don’t think it’s justfiable to say that U.S. policy is largely to blame without giving an adequate accounting of the governance failures in El Salvador, the lack of economic opportunities there that “push” migration to the U.S., the civil wars (where the U.S. and others took sides) and the lack of family units in towns where 90% of the men have gone elsewhere to work.

    I wouldn’t blame only the U.S. for the proliferation of Mara Salvatrucha, but the deportation aspect of it is a big deal. But there are also other factors to which the U.S. is also connected. Why were the Salvadoran refugees out on the streets of L.A., where the gang was formed? Because they couldn’t easily obtain jobs since most came here illegally, because the U.S. refused to acknowledge them as actual war refugees as instead called them “economic migrants.” Acknowledging them as refugees would have confirmed that there was indeed a brutal war going on, funded by the billions the U.S. was giving the Salvadoran government to crush the “commie” FMLN. The asylum approval rate for Salvadorans in the 1980s was under 3 percent, while the majority of applicants from communist countries or from governments that the U.S. opposed were approved. There is also the fact that many who joined MS-13 were former soldiers in the Salvadoran army, where they learned their violent tactics. Guess who trained/funded the Salvaodran army? Good ol’ U.S….I’m not trying to say they are the only ones to blame, but they are intimately connected to El Salvador’s recent political history and played a role in the gang’s proliferation. It’s just one example to think critically about the U.S. view of other countries (particularly in the third world) as a dumping ground for criminals.

  31. “I’m not trying to say they’re the only ones to blame” Except, that, Sonia, you are.

    Doesn’t it bother anyone here that governance is so incredibly poor in some of these countries? Blaming the US is the best excuse a proto-thug can use to deflect criticism. Chavez is trashing Venezuala, no one else. And, thanks to that, tons of Venzualans are relocating to Florida, and even here in Boston. Tons of real estate is being bought up.

    Look, I know like I’m always trying to deflect criticism from the US, which is not my aim. It’s just the mindlessness of some of the criticism that rankles. It’s like you are obsessed with the malfeasance of the US and don’t really care about anyone else. It’s not ultimately helpful to the people you profess to care about.

  32. Okay, I just wanted to clarify that I know you brought up El Salvador and I brought up Venezuala, but, jeez. The critical thinking is so incredibly one directional.

  33. I’d like to see some substantiation of Sonya’s claim that naturalized US citizens are being deported for committing felonies. I’ve never heard of such a thing, except in the case of former Nazis – and those deportations were for the original coverup, not any subsequent crime.

  34. MD on April 4, 2007 05:52 PM · Direct link “I’m not trying to say they’re the only ones to blame” Except, that, Sonia, you are. Doesn’t it bother anyone here that governance is so incredibly poor in some of these countries? Blaming the US is the best excuse a proto-thug can use to deflect criticism. Chavez is trashing Venezuala, no one else. And, thanks to that, tons of Venzualans are relocating to Florida, and even here in Boston. Tons of real estate is being bought up. Look, I know like I’m always trying to deflect criticism from the US, which is not my aim. It’s just the mindlessness of some of the criticism that rankles. It’s like you are obsessed with the malfeasance of the US and don’t really care about anyone else. It’s not ultimately helpful to the people you profess to care about.

    For the record, yes there is corruption and a lack of adequate governance in El Salvador, as in many other countries of the world. Happy? And the Salvadoran government DOES use MS-13 as scapegoats and blames everything on them as a way to cover up for their own incompetence.

    But that’s the issue here? Deporation. MS-13 was formed in Los Angeles, not El Salvador. It came to El Salvador and the rest of Central America when the U.S. deported the gang members. The U.S. was obviously in a better position than war-torn El Salvador to deal with them, yet it sent them back anyway.

    As for the Venezuelans flocking to Florida and the East Coast, I’m sure it’s just the rich ones. And for the record, I am not a fan nor a hater of Chavez.

  35. Sonia, I made the point that there are a number of causes for MS13, including US policy. I just don’t think you can attribute them all to U.S. policy. Having worked on a lot of the CSS cases in the 1990s, I realized that it was a combination of poor policy and bureaucratic inaction, but also migrants taking advantage of the immigration system. Temporary Protected Status, while not the same as refugee status in legal terms, did give people work permits, so your argument about having to turn to gang life because they didn’t have a job isn’t true. There actually were a large number of Salvadorans given asylee status or TPS in some form (over 2 million), and a look at the asylum stats shows that it’s not just the vague notion of “from governments the US opposed” that determines who is granted asylum.

    Gang life existed in El Salvador prior to the MS13 arrival — I think the difference may be the scale and scope of violence associated with it that MS13 members brought with them. I suspect of the current crop of MS13 members fall in the 18-25 age range. They weren’t in the Salvadoran army. It’s hard to drum up support for the idea that a person can come to the US illegally and commit serious crimes and then demand that the US government and taxpayer should allow them to be “dealt with” in the US instead of their country. Though it’s important to note that the US is facing the MS13 problem too.

  36. I just saw something on newamericanmedia.org about the parents of an Indian-American spelling bee champion being deported. Apparently, they are Hindu extremists who supported demolition of the Babri Masjid and they sought political asylum based on the fear of religious persecution by Muslims. My initial reaction was – WTF? Hindus persecuted in India by Muslims? Are you freaking kidding me? Then, I calmed down for a bit and realized that people who have lived here for years and stand to lose much (in this case the parents were deported but their super-speller-son has stayed in the US and is living with a relative) will say anything in order to stay here.

  37. I do hope that this post receives a re-visit when this story plays out — two foreign national Yale students on visas who may have committed a crime (flag burning no less!). Anyone think that there’ll be some different standards applied?

  38. Before you get your collective dhoti all up in a tangle about deportations targeted against nonwhites – read this: Americans Deported. This has been going on for a number of years now, and it has been affecting adoptees and other permanent residents from European as well as from non-European countries. I’m surprised no one here was aware of this, since a couple of years ago it was all over the news.

  39. it’s not just the vague notion of “from governments the US opposed” that determines who is granted asylum.

    I have a hard time buying this. Look at U.S. policy for Cubans who arrive on U.S. land versus for Haitians. Immigration policy is definitely influenced by U.S. foreign policy. And while a lot of Salvadorans eventually received TPS status, the same year (1984, I believe) that their asylum approval rate was under 3 percent, it was well over 50 percent for people fleeing communist-controlled countries. Nicaraguans had a relatively high approval rate, and that country’s U.S.-backed Somoza regime had just been overthrown by the Sandanistas. Immigration policy is one of the many things that governments manipulate to present a certain image to the public (i.e. communism is bad so therefore we must “save” these people by giving them refuge here).

  40. Of course there’s a link between foreign policy and refugee policy. But that doesn’t mean a nexus between supposedly “good” countries” and “bad countries” and approved asylum applications exists. At the end of the day, each individual has to demonstrate a well-founded fear of government persecution based on one or more certain factors. The reviewing officer looks at the evidence provided by the applicant as well as reports and information from a variety of sources. A fear of being killed in a gang war, while a valid fear certainly, generally hasn’t been enough to meet the legal standard under U.S. asylum law. One increasingly common ground that applicants today base their asylum claims on is sexual orientation. You won’t find, though, these claims being approved or rejected based on the applicants being from “bad countries” versus “good countries. It’s not that simple. Some interesting stas are here.

    Sorry, don’t mean to threadjack on this one issue. Feel free to email me directly though.

  41. Dieter and others, you guys are watching too much Fox. It’s always some nice all american white victim who is being talked about for hours on end while thousands of poor minorities don’t even merit a mention.

  42. What part of India is he from ? He does not look Indian at all..

    But I guess if he cut his hair short and got glasses — he would look some what Indian..