The U.S. Capitol is where former Alaskan Rebecca Trimble got clarity about her status in the U.S. It took a special act of Congress to ensure that Trimble, who was adopted and brought to the U.S. as a newborn, may stay in the country. Trimble, her Army dentist husband and her two children, lived until recently in Bethel. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
A former Alaska resident once threatened with imminent deportation to Mexico because of a paperwork glitch involving her adoption as a newborn has now been granted permanent resident status and a path to citizenship.
Private legislation, which applies to specific individuals, is rare. This was the first piece of private legislation enacted into law in the current session of Congress, which is about to end, and only the third passed by Congress in the last 10 years, said a statement issued by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Alaska Republicans.
“After a decade of uncertainty and legal appeals, I’m so pleased that we have put an end to any possibility of deportation and provided Rebecca with the peace of mind she so clearly deserves. She has lived in America, built her life in America, and raised her family in America. Now she can remain with her husband and children in the only country she has ever called home,” Murkowski said in the statement.
Trimble was born in Mexico in 1989 and adopted a few days later by American parents. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest.
Her legal fight started in 2012, when she applied for an enhanced driver’s license and learned that her adoption had not been properly completed by authorities in Mexico, that her Mexican birth certificate was not valid and that, as a consequence, she was not a legal citizen.
The limbo continued. Though she is married to a U.S. Army dentist, she was denied a “parole in place” status in 2016. In 2017, after moving with her husband and children to the western Alaska community of Bethel, she applied for permanent resident status. But in 2020, she was denied that, and informed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service that she had a month to leave the country.
Her story sparked a flurry of activity among supporters in Bethel and elsewhere.
It was first reported by the Alaska Landmine news site. It was later picked up by other news organizations, including the New York Times. It inspired action by the Congressional delegation, starting with a private bill introduced in 2020 by the late U.S. Rep. Don Young, which was reintroduced the following year in the U.S. House. A Senate version was introduced by Murkowski.
Ultimately, the House version passed, and it won unanimous approval, Murkowski and Sullivan said in their statement.
“It is fitting that this will be Don Young’s final bill to get signed into law, a capstone to a long and amazing career advocating for a state and a people he loved,” Sullivan said in the statement.
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