SEATTLE — Tara Ammons Cohen says she’s as American as baseball and apple pie.
But on paper, she’s still Mexican and could face deportation.
After spending more than two years behind bars, the woman was released from a federal detention center in Tacoma last Friday.
She’s been spending her time with her husband and three children at their home in Omak.
“It’s been amazing to be home with my family and, you know, wrestle with my kids,” she said.
Cohen pleaded guilty to drug trafficking several years ago. After she served her time, she learned that the government wanted to deport her to Mexico.
“I’m an American,” she said. “It may not say so with me not having a green card, but I was adopted by Americans.”
Cohen was born in Mexico, but adopted by Americans at 4 months old. But to her amazement, she learned that the proper paperwork was never been filed, and she was never legally made an American citizen.
“I am an American who was overlooked in the system for my adoption,” she said.
“They want to deport her,” said husband Jay Cohen. “It’s like throwing a mouse into a snake pit and saying, ‘Go make a living.’”
Both Tara and her husband say she knows nothing about her home country.
“I wouldn’t last a day. I don’t speak Spanish. I don’t write Spanish. I don’t know anything about the Hispanic culture,” said Tara.
That’s the argument attorney Manuel Rios will make to the immigration judge on Tara’s behalf. And there’s also the possibility of Tara getting something called a U-visa as she was assaulted as a minor in California.
“And so basically if you can show that you were a victim of a crime and were helpful in the conviction and prosecution of that crime, then you can be eligible for it,” said Rios.
Tara says she has a new respect for freedom, and a new desire to put mistakes behind her and live a good life, all as an American. She says she no longer uses drugs.
“When they say one day at a time, I take care of today and I let Jesus take care of tomorrow,” she said. “I’m not going to focus on that. I’m going to focus on right here, right now. And right here, right now, I am clean and sober.”
Tara and her lawyer think they have a strong case to secure a visa, and put a halt to the deportation process.