FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Federal officials say a Chinese mother threatened with sterilization under China's "one-child" policy may be allowed to stay in the United States.
Federal prosecutors say they've decided to drop a passport-fraud case against Zuo Mei Ke, who was smuggled into Florida on a cruise ship with five other Chinese citizens using false Japanese passports, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
Ke and another Chinese woman, Feng Zhao, who is claiming religious persecution, are seeking asylum.
"The government dropped the charge because it was the right thing to do," Ke's attorney, Richard Docobo, said. "Zuo Mei Ke was subject to forced sterilization. If she had remained in China, they would have made her life so difficult."
A 1996 U.S. law grants asylum to people who can demonstrate they face forced abortion, forced sterilization or population control.
More than 10,000 Chinese nationals file asylum claims every year, immigration records indicate.
"The majority of asylum claims from China are for forced abortion and forced sterilization," Ira Kurzban, a Miami attorney and expert on immigration law, said. "Most of the claims are centered around New York and the West Coast, but there are cases all over the country, including some in South Florida."