House Version of Adoptee Citizenship Act Introduced with Bipartisan Support Days Before 2nd Day of Action

House Version of Adoptee Citizenship Act Introduced with Bipartisan Support Days Before 2nd Day of Action

WASHINGTON DC — Today, on the second Adoptee Citizenship Act Day of Action, led by the Adoptee Rights Campaign (ARC) and National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), adoptees and allies in the movement from Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington gathered in Washington D.C. to educate members of Congress about and gain support for the passage of the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act (ACA) in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Days before the second adoptee-led day of action, on Friday, June 10th, Representatives Adam Smith (WA-9) and Trent Franks (AZ-8) introduced H.R.5454, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2016, the House companion bill of S.2275, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015.

Adoptees, adoptive parents, and allies from across the country will also be driving calls to their senators and representatives in solidarity with the delegation of adoptees and allies advocating in D.C to further emphasize the urgency of fixing the loophole in the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) leaving thousands of intercountry adoptees in a vulnerable state without citizenship.

Since the first day of action on April 19, 2016, adoptee advocates have visited over 60 legislative offices mostly of Senate and House Judiciary committee members. By the week of June 13th, adoptee advocates would have conducted meetings with all 20 members of the Senate Judiciary committee and shared information with all 39 members of the House Judiciary committee, as well as members who were formerly advocates for earlier versions of this bill.

“The Adoptee Citizenship Act closes a loophole and in so doing, brings hope to thousands of adoptees who were lawfully adopted and have lived their entire lives knowing only the United States as home, and yet, may never have been able to exercise their rights of citizenship due to lack of paperwork stemming from the circumstances surrounding their adoption,” said Congressman Franks. “Elevating the voices of adoptees here in Congress has been a priority for me as co-chair of the Adoption Coalition, and I am so grateful to be able to jointly introduce this very bipartisan initiative with my colleague Congressman Smith. I look forward to working together to ensure the legislation moves forward.”

“This bill seeks to carry forward the vision of the original Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which sought to ensure that adopted children and biological children are treated equally under U.S. law. It will extend citizenship to foreign born adoptive children who have joined their forever families here in the United States,” said Congressman Smith. “Unfortunately, not all adoptees were able to benefit from the legislation when it originally passed, as it was limited to apply only to minors age 18 and under. Adopted individuals should not be treated as second class citizens just because they happened to be the wrong age when the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was passed.”

Angela, an adoptee from Arizona who will benefit from the ACA shared: “I entered the U.S. as a special needs child to be adopted ‘as is,’ which hurts if dwelled on. Many people believe all internationally adopted children of U.S. Citizen parents are granted automatic citizenship. This is not true. For me, there was difficulty securing a new job because of modern employer verifications complications due to my lack of citizenship. This is just one of the stress-riddled problems spanning years. I desire to remain active and productive in my community; regardless something beyond my control could happen and put me at risk for deportation. This gripping fear keeps me from registering to vote, applying for government jobs, getting married, adopting children, traveling abroad, and fulfilling the American Dream. Embrace all children of U.S. Citizens, ‘as is,’ by supporting the Adoptee Citizenship Act.”

Kris, an adoptee from Washington who is impacted by the ACA, said: “The US is my home and I am an American citizen of the United States, even if a piece of paper says otherwise. I attended college, raised 2 children, and paid my taxes as a citizen. I worked for Fortune 500 companies as a highly successful database engineer and project analyst. Now I am in a precarious state and am concerned about my citizenship and employment status. I was born in Vietnam and was to be brought to the United States with other children through the Operation Babylift during the Vietnam War. My parents who are U.S. citizens were stationed there at Anderson Airforce Base in Guam while volunteering for the Red Cross and adopted me in 1975. Somehow, my adoption paperwork was lost during the naturalization process. My parents thought the process had been completed, as there was no indication of a problem. This loophole needs to be fixed for the thousands of others who are living, like me, without citizenship.”

Dae Joong Yoon, Executive Director of NAKASEC, said: “The time is now to correct this loophole that is jeopardizing the lives of thousands of adoptees who are without U.S. citizenship through no fault of their own. Legislation with bipartisan support has been introduced in both chambers of congress. Thousands of adoptees, including Angela and Kris who journeyed to D.C. this June and Mae and Amie who joined us for the first day of action in April, are prevented from living a normal, healthy American life and living in fear of being deported to a country of birth where they have no known family, cannot speak the language, and do not know the culture. We have been advocating on the Hill around the Adoptee Citizenship Act to address this human rights issue that the adoptee community has been fighting to correct for years. It is time for Congress to right the wrong that should have been corrected over a decade ago.”

For more information or to get involved with the movement to win citizenship for all intercountry adoptees, please contact adopteedefense@gmail.com and follow us at #citizenshipforalladoptees