citizenship loophole limbo

In national news, we’re inundated daily with drama related to the Trump presidency, Obamacare repeal, and Russian hacks, but there is another issue at large that affects thousands of individuals living in the U.S. I’m referring to international adoptees who were adopted to the U.S. prior to the year 1983 who are now at risk for deportation. Despite the U.S. citizenship of their parents, these adoptees were not automatically granted citizenship. In many cases, their adoptive parents did not properly apply for naturalization. Today, many adult international adoptees living in the U.S. are learning that they do not have U.S. citizenship. Without citizenship, adoptees have limited work and travel options, cannot access public benefits or qualify for home loans, and are at risk for deportation to countries where they have no known family, do not know the language or culture, and have less than optimal chances of survival.

In 2000, the Child Citizen Act (CCA) was implemented to protect the status of adopted/foreign-born children by allowing them to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically. This law became effective on February 27, 2001. However, in order to be protected by this law, a child had to be born no earlier than February 27, 1983 – in other words, children who were 18+ years of age when CCA was enacted were left out of the Act causing a loophole to exist.

Many of the adoptees left out, who also committed minor crimes, and whose adoptive parents did not properly apply for naturalization, have been deported, or are at risk for deportation back to their country of origin. Most of them have lived almost all of their lives in the U.S. Adam Crapser, a name many adoptees are familiar with, is a 41-year old adoptee who was deported to S. Korea last year and is consequently separated from his wife and daughter in the U.S. Through no fault of his own, Adam was adopted at the age of 3 years by physically/psychologically abusive parents – parents who obviously did not seek naturalization. As a result of the trauma he experienced, Adam faced several challenges. You can read more about Adam’s story here. Most recently, adoptee, Phillip Clay, took his own life after being deported to S. Korea in 2012, his country of birth. It has been reported that Phillip suffered from psychological issues, a malady not uncommon to many international adoptees.

Efforts continue to be made by the Adoptee Rights Campaign, and other groups (National Korean American Service and Education ConsortiumKorean Resource Center) to re-introduce the Adoptee Citizenship Act (ACA), first presented to Congress in 2015 by a small group of senators. The bill, SB2275, provides for automatic acquisition of United States citizenship for certain internationally adopted individuals. In 2016, a group of representatives introduced House companion bill, HB5454. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass through all stages in the (2015-2016) 114th sessions for Congress. The bill could have granted retroactive U.S. citizenship to all internationally adopted individuals regardless of when they were born, addressing the issue that left multitudes of adoptees who were born prior to February 28, 1983 unprotected by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

You can make a difference, however! Sign the 2017 Adoptee Citizenship Act Petition here urging members of Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act, and encourage your family and friends to do the same. Through our collective voice, legislators will take action, and those adoptees who are threatened by the loophole will have equal rights and protection. Please write and/or call your legislators to help bring awareness to this important legislation. Thank you for your support.

Watch Vice News report (HB0) on Adam Crapser’s plight below. Read, “Deportation a ‘Death Sentence’ to Adoptees after a Lifetime in the U.S.” here published at the NY Times, July 2, 2017.

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