Woman who moved to US with family could be deported back to Britain
A YOUNG woman who moved to the US with her parents as a child faces being torn away from her family.
Lauren Bell, 20, moved from Swanland to Georgia with her family when she was 11.
She is now in the third year of a marketing degree at Georgia College and State University.
But American immigration laws could see Lauren deported when she becomes a legal adult – on the day she turns 21.
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Lauren said: "The thought of having to leave is pretty devastating, especially considering I would not be allowed back in the US to live again for at least a year.
"I feel having to move back to the UK would bring a halt to everything.
"Like many others my age, I am trying to get through college and start a life of my own but now that this is happening that feels a lot more far off than it once seemed."
Lauren's family emigrated after her father Kevin, 49, got a job working for a large American glass printing company.
He was issued with a work visa that has to be renewed every year so he can carry on working.
Kevin then applied for a green card, which would have given him and his family the right to permanently live in the US.
But because the American immigration service objected to part of Kevin's job description, they refused to grant him a card.
Kevin said: "The company sponsored me for the green card.
"It went through five years of processing and then the immigration service said no.
"The company appealed and that's been going on for years."
Kevin's current visa allows his wife Karen, Lauren, and her sister Emily, 17, to live in the US, although they cannot work.
But when Lauren turns 21 she will legally be an adult under American law and will no longer be allowed to stay in the country.
Kevin said: "She's always lived here. All her friends are here.
"I'm trying everything I can – I'm trying to get a change in law or get the US immigration service to see sense."
In June, President Barrack Obama passed a law called the Dream Act.
It prevents people who illegally entered the country when they were 21 or under from being deported.
However, because Lauren entered the country through legal, the Act does not protect her.
When her 21st birthday comes at the end of January, she will have to drop out of university and leave the country – or face deportation. Her grandfather Keith Hancock, who lives in Cottingham, said relatives in the UK would care for her but she should not have to leave her closest family.
Mr Hancock said: "It's a crazy situation. When Lauren first found out about it she was very upset.
"I think she's being stoical about it at the moment.
"There will be somewhere for her to stay in the UK but that's not the point. She wants to be with her folks."
Lauren's family have started a website and petition in the US to publicise their plight.
State senator Saxby Chambliss has sent her a letter pledging his support.
Visit www.letlaurenstay.com to support Lauren.