Teen Convert Rifqa Bary Fights to Avoid Deportation

The teen convert to Christianity who ran away from her Muslim family last summer is fighting to stay in the United States.

An attorney for Rifqa Bary asked an Ohio judge Monday to declare that the girl is unable to reunite with her parents by her 18th birthday. The order would allow Bary to apply for immigration status and avoid possible deportation to her homeland, Sri Lanka.

Though there is no move to deport Bary at the moment, her attorney, Angela Lloyd, said reconciliation is unlikely to happen by her client's 18th birthday, which is Aug. 10. Lloyd said obtaining special status for Bary is urgent. It is feared that if the teen is returned to Sri Lanka she will be harmed or killed by Muslim extremists.

But the attorney for Bary's parents objected. Omar Tarazi said the parents already filed an immigration application for the whole family, according to The Associated Press.

The Ohio judge overseeing the case, Elizabeth Gill, said she will not sign the order at this time. Gill said she will hold another hearing next month to discuss Bary's immigration status.

In the meantime, Gill wants the Barys to continue counseling sessions with the ultimate goal being reconciliation.

The Barys attend counseling sessions separately and a face-to-face meeting does not seem likely in the near future.

Bary ran away to Orlando in July citing fear that her father would kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity. She stayed with a pastor's family that she met on Facebook for the first two weeks.

Then Florida authorities matched her to the girl in the missing persons report filed by her parents. After several months of court drama in Florida, it was decided that she should be returned to Ohio and her home state should take care of the case.

Rifqa Bary has been staying in foster care after returning to Ohio in October.

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