Immigration officials have detained a Brooklyn mother of three children for the last four months and her attorney claims federal authorities are holding her illegally.
Jian Ling Lin, a 32-year-old immigrant from China, was arrested by authorities in June in connection with a green card scam and is currently jailed in Farmville, Va. However, according to her lawyer, Lin has never been charged with a crime.
"ICE does not have a way to care for young children like a foster care system or anything, so that's why they release people with young kids," said Chunyu Jean Wang, Jian Ling's attorney. "She's your typical case of release. She has no criminal history. She has young children to care for."
Lin is the mother of three American-born children who live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Her husband works in a another state, leaving only her sick, disabled father to care for the children.
Lin came to the country 12 years ago, hoping to follow her father's path, finding political asylum. She was denied asylum and stayed in the country illegally, according to her attorney.
Returning to China is not an option for Lin, according to her attorney, because her father's status would make her a target for political repression.
Family members fear that she will be deported.
"I want my daughter to come home," her father, Yifudi Lin, said through an interpreter. "It's just me taking care of these children. I'm going to die of being too tired."
"My mom didn't come back and then I asked my grandpa what happened and he told me that my mom was in jail and I was so sad," said Toby Shi, Jian Ling Lin's son.
Wang says Jian Ling Lin is eligible for a green card.
"There are other reliefs available to her, meaning she can get a green card despite the order of removal and we've done that for her. We filed a motion to reorder her proceedings so that she would get another chance in immigration court," Wang said.
Wang points to a fax from Immigration and Customs Enforcement saying the feds continue to hold Jian Ling Lin because she hasn't provided her Chinese passport. She says she lost it years ago and can't possibly replace while in federal custody.
Last year, the Obama administration issued an order for the ICE to use "prosecutorial discretion" in immigration cases seemingly similar to Lin's and to only deport immigrants who posed the most danger to the country.
So far, ICE officials have not commented on Lin's case.