Immigration is a murky subject and therefore difficult to talk about. The topic grabbed headlines during our election cycle — as Donald Trump ranted about rapists, registries, and “extreme vetting” — but even these incendiary remarks eventually settled into the silt of 2016’s detritus-strewn sea floor. Trump’s clumsy discussions of the immigration system failed to reflect the fact that while our policies are in need of attention, the system isn’t completely broken. Though it may come as a surprise, the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has held steady for five years, down from 2007.
For decades, our government has wrestled over how to establish clear pathways for immigrants to become U.S. citizens. It’s an important piece of the puzzle (and in line with our foundational values). When it comes to immigrants convicted of crimes, the picture grows fuzzy. After all, this country has a lot on its plate. The prevailing attitude seems to be that any illegal immigrant cycling through the justice system is a strain on resources of the nation and our capacity for compassion is thereby limited. But is that view simplistic to the point of recklessness? In the case of Adam Crapser it seems to be.
Crapser was adopted from South Korea as a three-year-old after being left at an orphanage by his mother. The situation at his first home in the U.S. was miserable — he recalls fighting, neglect, and abuse. After six years, his first set of adoptive parents gave up Crapser and his sister, splitting them apart and removing they boy’s only sense of stability.
After bouncing around foster homes, Crapser landed with Thomas and Dolly Crapser. It was out of the frying pan and into the fire. The couple had 10 other foster children in the house and were physically and mentally abusive. Adam tells stories of having his mouth taped shut with duct tape, his head hit with a 2×4, and his hands burned.
“A lot of these adoptees were physically, emotionally, and sexually abused,” explains Jenny Kim, a friend and advocate for Crapser. “I feel that between the state and the federal government, they failed gravely.”
Eventually, the Crapsers were charged with rape, multiple counts of child abuse, assault, and criminal mistreatment.