[Stop-traffic] News/US: Deportation ruled out for Cameroonian girl

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/US: Deportation ruled out for Cameroonian girl
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sun Oct 15 2000 - 20:43:40 EDT

Deportation ruled out for Cameroonian girl
Parents lose rights to teen in abuse case
By L. L. Brasier
The Detroit Free Press, October 3, 2000

A young Cameroonian girl who says she was enslaved and abused by a
Farmington Hills couple will remain in the United States indefinitely
after a judge Monday severed the rights of her natural parents, still
in West Africa. The move saved her from deportation later this month.

The girl, 17, has been in foster care since February, when police
took her from a home where they say she was beaten, neglected and
raped for three years by the couple, fellow Cameroonians who smuggled
her into the country using false documents.

She had faced deportation on Oct. 21, the day she turns 18 and
becomes an adult.

But Oakland County Family Court Judge Joan Young's decision Monday to
terminate the rights of the girl's parents can keep the girl a ward
of the court until her 21st birthday. Under a rarely used immigration
statute, immigrant children under foster care and whose natural
parents have had their rights terminated are eligible for a special
juvenile petition for permanent residency.

"I am confident we can get permanent residency," said her attorney,
Ronald Kaplovitz, an immigration law expert. "She meets all the
requirements for it."

Young, in making her decision, said she chose to end the rights of
the parents to the daughter, not because of the advantage it gave the
girl in her immigration struggle, but because she believed it to be
in the girl's best interest.

The parents had little contact with the girl during the three years
she was with the Farmington Hills couple, and did not try to stop the
termination of their rights until last week, when they sent a letter
to the court asking that the girl be returned to Cameroon.

Prosecutor Deborah Carley said the girl's father had recently sent a
letter to his daughter in foster care, urging her to go back to the
Farmington Hills couple, Joseph and Evelyn Djoumessi. They are in the
Oakland County Jail, charged with kidnapping, conspiring to kidnap
and child abuse. Joseph Djoumessi is also charged with raping the

The girl told investigators that the Djoumessis brought her to
Michigan in October 1996, when she was 14, and that they kept her in
the basement, allowing her upstairs only to clean and cook and care
for the couple's three children. She did not attend school.

The Djoumessis, through their attorneys, have denied the allegations.
They are to stand trial in February.
Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

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