Canadian orphan, 16, allowed to remain in U.S. for one year Grandmother in Calif. is only living relative, but youth faces deportation

August 15, 1998|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES -- Guy Taylor, a 16-year-old Canadian orphan, entered an Immigration and Naturalization Service hearing office yesterday wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap, an Oakland Raiders jersey and baggy jeans -- the epitome of an average American kid.

He left smiling 20 minutes later, holding a certificate that allows him to continue living the life of an average American kid, at least for a year.

"I won," the lanky teen said as he walked out of the downtown Federal Building.

The INS had threatened to deport Guy after he came to the United States last year to live with his grandmother, Oleta Hansen of Garden Grove, Calif., who became Guy's legal guardian after his Canadian mother died.

But under federal immigration law, Guy does not qualify for legal residence through his grandmother because he is 16, one year too old. He has no relatives in Canada, so deportation would have meant living in a foster home.

Yesterday, however, the INS reversed its previous position and approved a rare "humanitarian parole," which allows Guy to live with Hansen until Aug. 14, 1999, at which time he can apply for a renewal.

"This is only a year, but it's more than what we had," said a tearful Hansen as she hugged Guy and clutched the INS certificate.

The request for a humanitarian parole was a last-ditch effort, said Guy's attorney, Carl Shusterman, who waived his fees to take the case. The boy's only other hope for staying with his grandmother would have been to get Congress to pass a bill specifically for him, the attorney said.

In his 20 years as an immigration attorney, Shusterman said, he has never seen anyone win a humanitarian parole application.

To get a permanent status, he said, Guy must marry an American citizen or find a high-skills job that most Americans cannot fill.

"This is strictly a year-by-year situation," Shusterman said.

"It is really discretionary, and it's really used sparingly," said Richard Rodgers, district director for the INS. He declined to say how often such approvals are issued.

But Rogers said Guy's troubles are not over. Guy is still considered an illegal immigrant and is not entitled to such benefits as a Social Security number, which would enable him to get a summer job, Rogers said.

"This is not the ultimate relief," he said.

Guy's mother, Teresa, died in British Columbia of a drug overdose that is still under investigation. The Canadian government granted legal guardianship of the boy to Hansen, a retired hospital worker, and her husband, Charles. But when she tried to bring Guy to the United States for his mother's funeral in May, Hansen said, border officials told her he could not legally enter the country.

"I more or less had to beg and plead on my knees to get him in," she said.

Since then, Hansen has appealed to several government officials, including writing a letter to President Clinton.

"All I want is to keep my grandson with me," she said. "He is all I have."

Pub Date: 8/15/98

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