The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 is a bipartisan bill which would grant citizenship to all adoptees of U.S. citizen parents. Since the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was passed, most foreign-born children adopted by American parents are automatically granted United States citizenship. However, before the bill was passed, obtaining citizenship status for an adopted child involved a separate process. For one reason or another, some families with adopted children never went through the process of obtaining citizenship for their adopted child. This would cause many issues when the child eventually became an adult, as they were legally considered a non-citizen. It is estimated that between 25,000 and 49,000 adoptees were never granted United States citizenship (Medina, 2019). They were adopted by American parents between the 1950’s and 1980’s when intercountry adoption was less regulated. Also, at the time, many adoptive parents were not adequately educated on the legal process of adoption. These adoptees are at risk of being deported, having trouble finding employment, losing access to certain services, and many other issues. They are essentially living their lives as though they are illegal immigrants, because of their legal status. In 2000, the Child Citizenship Act was successful in granting automatic citizenship to many child adoptees. However, this bill has a loophole which excluded adoptees who were over 18 at the time it was passed. The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 aims to correct the shortcomings of the Child Citizenship Act.
If the Adoptee Citizenship Act is passed, it will grant citizenship to anyone who has been or will be adopted by a United States citizen, regardless of their current age. Meaning that those who were over 18 in February 2001 when the Child Citizenship Act took effect, would become United States citizens. This bill will help many adoptees who were left out of the Child Citizenship Act due to their birthday or their visa type.
This legislation is so important because adoptees deserve the right to citizenship. In many cases, these adoptees have gone about their lives assuming that they are American citizens. They then discover that they are not citizens when they apply for jobs, try to obtain passports or updated driver’s licenses or social security cards. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that approximately 36 adoptees had been deported or were at risk of deportation because of criminal offences and their lack of citizenship status (Bahrampour, 2016). Most of these adoptees have lived in the United States for their entire lives and are fully integrated in American society. They are no different than a child who was born to American parents. This bill will help to make sure that adopted children have the same rights to citizenship as biological children. The lack of citizenship status effects many aspects of their lives, such as job stability and family life. Being an American is part of their identity and these adoptees deserve to be U.S. citizens. Adoptees not being considered U.S. citizens is an injustice that both sides of the political spectrum can agree needs to be corrected.
Drafted by Alyssa Howes, intern at the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC
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Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019, S.1554, 116th Cong., 1st Sess. (2019).
Bahrampour, T. (2016, September 02). They grew up as American citizens, then learned that they weren't. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/thousands-of-adoptees-thought-they-were-us-citizens-but-learned-they-are-not/2016/09/02/7924014c-6bc1-11e6-99bf-f0cf3a6449a6_story.html?utm_term=.fe6449f0cde5
Congressman Smith and Congressman Woodall Introduce Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019. (2019, May 14). Retrieved from https://adamsmith.house.gov/2019/5/congressman-smith-and-congressman-woodall-introduce-adoptee-citizenship-act-of-2019
Medina, D. A. (2019, May 14). Some Adoptees Are Undocumented Because Their Parents Forgot to Fill Out a Form. Now Congress Is Taking Action. Retrieved from https://theintercept.com/2019/05/14/adoption-citizenship-bill/
La Corte, M., & Schneider, R. (2020, September 17). Congress Should Fix A Loophole That Denied Citizenship To Some International Adoptees. Retrieved from https://www.niskanencenter.org/congress-should-fix-a-loophole-that-denied-citizenship-to-some-international-adoptees/