Deported adoptee speaks out from Colombia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- After being caught trying to re-enter the United States from Mexico in December 2015, Viviana Cogswell Hill spent a year locked up, and she's now been deported for a second time.

But the timing of her deportation on Dec. 27 was her choice; she agreed to be sent back while her visa applications were still pending.

"I didn't want to sit in jail and wait and wait and wait and wait," said Cogswell Hill in a Skype interview from Medellin, Colombia.

Her immigration story is unusual. Cogswell Hill and her four siblings were adopted by an Albemarle County couple in 1989, but Cogswell Hill ended up living away from the family in group homes as a teen.

Her adoptive parents didn't complete her citizenship paperwork, and as a result, she was first deported after getting into legal trouble, leaving a young son and her siblings behind when she was sent back to her birth country. She knew no one and no longer spoke the language.

After CBS19 aired her story in March, an Augusta County company called Nexus Services offered to represent her pro bono and helped her apply for visas. But Cogswell Hill says the wait felt too long, and she decided to continue her fight to return to the U.S. from Colombia.

"At least I can work and I can help my son more, being out than being jail, locked up," she said.

She said she is concerned that the incoming Donald Trump administration could make things more difficult.

"I think that it's going to have a lot to do with my case and other people's cases as well," she said. "I just pray that it doesn't really affect it."

Cogswell Hill's brother, Jacob Hill, said he has mixed feelings about his sister's return to Colombia.

"I'm glad that she's able to breathe fresh air and stuff, but she's so far away," he said. "It's a little painful, but we have to move on to the next step and figure out another way."

Cogswell Hill's lead Nexus attorney was out of the country and unable to comment. Cogswell Hill said she's staying positive.

"I'm a little sad, but I know that it'll come," she said. "It's just going to take a little longer."



 
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