BETHEL (AP) — An Alaska woman facing deportation was unaware she was not a U.S. citizen until she was 22 years old, she said.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has ordered Becky Trimble to leave the country, Alaska Public Media reported Tuesday.
The Bethel resident has lived in the United States since she was three days old.
Trimble received a letter from the agency Feb. 10 saying she had 33 days to leave or risk being deported because she voted illegally in the 2008 presidential election.
Until then, Trimble assumed she was a U.S. citizen. She had gotten a job, a driver's license and voted. She is married with two children.
But Trimble's parents adopted her three days after her birth and brought her to the U.S. from Mexico.
As a 19-year-old high school senior, Trimble was told voting was the right thing to do. President George W. Bush was ineligible for another term and Republican John McCain faced Democrat Barack Obama in the contest for the White House.
"It was a very big election, 2008," Trimble said. "We could make history."
Trimble told citizenship and immigration services she had no idea she was not a citizen when she cast her ballot, but the agency maintained her action was still illegal.
"I feel like there are holes in the system and that I just need to be looked at as an individual, and not just over a letter," Trimble said.
Trimble is not worried about her upcoming departure deadline.
"I just don't feel like they could deport me when there's just nowhere to go," Trimble said. "There's no proof (of where) to send me."
The birth certificate her adoptive parents received from her birth mother in Mexico was fake and she does not believe the United States will send her to a country where she does not officially belong.
"Who knows if they even want me," Trimble joked.
Trimble has received encouragement from Alaska officials. Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski phoned her, while Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Democratic state Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky said they have advocated on her behalf.
"I'm going to stay here and just live out normal life, and just kind of see how things play out," Trimble said. "It's still scary because, of course, they could probably detain me, but I feel at peace that things are going to work out and that I'm safe."