Houston Community News >> Chinese Teenager Facing Deportation Gets Green Card

9/26/2006 Houston-- A teenager who begged not to be deported to China because human smugglers would kill him over a debt has been granted permanent residency in the United States, his lawyer said.

Young Zheng, 18, had been fighting for asylum since his arrival in 2003. He said that he’s not wanted by his father because he is the family’s second-born and that he faces reprisals from human traffickers over an unpaid $65,000 smuggling fee.

Officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services informed lawyer John Sullivan that Zheng’s permanent residency was approved Sept. 19 and that his green card will be issued soon.

“It’s a dream come true,” Zheng said Monday. Zheng is now a high school sophomore in the Houston area with plans to apply for citizenship, which he will be eligible to do in five years. He said would like to attend either Rice University or the University of Texas.

“We’re just tickled pink,” said Sullivan, a partner at the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski, which handled the case for free. The government granted Zheng “special immigrant juvenile status” in April, which is intended for children who were abandoned, abused or neglected in their home country and allows them to apply for permanent residency if it’s in their best interest not to return.

U.S. officials discovered Zheng’s fake passport when he arrived at the airport in Newark, N.J. at age 14. He was released to his uncle in Akron, Ohio, on the condition that he check in periodically with the Department of Homeland Security. Zheng lived with his uncle and attended high school there until his final deportation order came through in April 2005 and he was detained.

But while being escorted by immigration agents to a flight bound for China, Zheng broke away and banged his head into a wall until he passed out because, he said, he feared facing the smugglers. He was treated at a hospital and then sent to a juvenile detention facility in Houston. Zheng’s lawyers then began making appeals to convince the government that Zheng’s story was true and he should be allowed to stay.

Zheng has said that his father and stepmother have told him not to contact them because they fear for their lives. His father blames Zheng for the threats, because Zheng didn’t work illegally to pay the smugglers, Zheng said. Zheng came to the United States after his father arranged his trip through the smugglers. His mother has died and he said his father chose to send him away because as the second child born to the family he faced “extreme discrimination.”

China limits most families to one child. Couples who have more than one have been subject to heavy fines, job losses and forced sterilization

(Contributed by Associated Press)