KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Missouri dancer won't spend her 21st birthday leaving the United States for England after all. The deportation process for Lauren Gray has been stopped thanks to the help of U-S Senator Claire McCaskill. The college graduate and aspiring dancer grew up in Trenton, Missouri after moving to the states with her family when she was just 4-years old.
"The best birthday present I could've gotten I am so happy to be able to stay here," said Gray.
Wednesday, August 8, is Gray's 21st birthday and the day she was supposed to self-deport to England. Gray's parents are naturalized citizens but nine years after applying for a green card, Lauren's application is still in immigration backlog. By law she would have to self-deport on her 21st birthday.
Luckily, on the morning of August 8th, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill announced she had obtained a federal deferral for Lauren that won't expire until her green card application is finally processed.
"I'm very pleased that she will remain in the only country that she has ever known and continue to be an important part of her community in the years ahead," said Sen. McCaskill.
Senator McCaskill says she personally called the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to plead Lauren's case.
"I'm just glad that common sense prevailed and that Lauren is not getting on an airplane today," McCaskill said.
Lauren Gray says she couldn't be more relieved or more grateful.
"I'm so excited to be able to even have the prospect of being able to work in America now. I have a few auditions lined up, some in Branson and I think I'm going to work myself out to the West Coast," Gray said.
Ironically, if Lauren had come to the states illegally, she would've had an easier time getting a deferral. In June, the Obama administration said it would stop deporting law-abiding illegal immigrants if they were children, when their parents brought them the United States.
The same exception doesn't apply to people who turn 21 if they came to America legally.