Tara Ammons Cohen of Omak was born in Mexico and adopted by American parents as a small child. Since then, she's spent almost every one of her 38 years living in the United States. But after a theft charge landed her in minor trouble, immigration officials got wind that her original adoption paperwork wasn't complete. Now a judge has ordered that she be deported back to Mexico, a place that's as foreign to her as it likely is to anyone who's never been there.
Cohen's plight is made only slightly less tragic by the fact that it was a crime that brought her immigration status to light. She was arrested for stealing another woman's purse and using her debit card in 2007.
Cohen says that taking the purse was an accident because she was drunk when it happened and that her purse and the one she stole looked similar, saying that it "was not done on purpose, whatsoever."
She doesn't address whether the woman's debit card looked similar to hers as well.
Regardless, a theft charge is a far cry from a serious felony and whether it justifies her being sent to a country that she knows only from stories and perhaps vague memories is a stretch.
Fitting's justification for deporting her, however, doesn't concern Cohen's minor criminal history, but rather, the paperwork that her adoptive parents apparently never completed. Basically, the judge is following the letter of the law to a T.
Cohen is married with three kids as well. But her family won't be going to Mexico with her, because her husband says it would be too dangerous for their children.
All that leaves is a woman who's effectively spent her entire life in the United States, doesn't know Spanish, can't bring her family with her to Mexico and can't come back to America.
Meanwhile, there are folks like Bernardino Ramirez-Santos, a Mexican citizen and Pierce County resident who's been deported four times already and spent a combined 24 of his 42 years locked up in American prisons and jails on various drug charges. A day before Cohen was deported, Ramirez-Santos was sentenced to seven more years behind bars for his latest trespassing charge, which will be paid for on the taxpayers' dime.
But hey, at least he'll get to stay in the U.S.