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Senators Hirono, Blunt, Collins, Klobuchar Introduce Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 – a bipartisan legislation to close a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 that prevented internationally-adopted children from receiving U.S. citizenship despite being legally adopted by U.S. citizens.

“Due to a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act, thousands of internationally-adopted children, who were raised by American parents, have been denied the same rights of citizenship as biological children,” Senator Hirono said. “These adoptees were raised as Americans in American families and would have received the stability and security that the Child Citizenship Act provided if they had been under the age of 18 when that law went into effect. The Adoptee Citizenship Act would fix this loophole and right this wrong.”

“Thousands of children who were adopted from abroad and raised in the U.S. by American parents have been denied citizenship because of a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act,” Senator Blunt said. “These children, who are now adults, should have been given the same rights afforded to other adoptees under the CCA. This bipartisan bill will fix current law to ensure these individuals have the stability and opportunity they should have had when their families welcomed them into the U.S.”

“Individuals who were legally adopted by loving U.S. parents, raised with American values, and are now contributing members of our society should not be denied citizenship due to a technicality in current law,” Senator Collins said. “Our bipartisan bill would address this loophole, and I encourage our colleagues to support it.”

“As Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I believe that all kids deserve more than just a roof over their heads and a bed to sleep in—each and every child deserves a loving home, and adoption makes that possible for so many children around the world,” Senator Klobuchar said. “Our bipartisan bill closes a loophole and makes citizenship automatic for all adopted children regardless of their age at adoption. These adoptees grew up in American families. They went to American schools. They lead American lives. This bill would ensure that international adoptees are recognized as the Americans that they truly are.”

“Adoptees who join American families as children grow up with American values and contribute to our nation’s communities in every way,” Joy Alessi, Director of the Adoptee Rights Campaign, said. “Passing the Adoptee Citizenship Act will provide the benefits and protections that many adoptees did not receive during their adoption process. Citizenship is critical for economic stability, family preservation, and social legitimacy. Finally, equal citizenship rights will strengthen our national values by empowering adoptees to participate in American democracy. We thank Senators Hirono, Blunt, Collins, and Klobuchar for their bipartisan leadership and urge all Members of Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019.”

“For far too long, tens of thousands of international adoptee children of American parents have lived their entire lives without U.S. citizenship due to an oversight in a law that was intended to help them,” Daniel Sakaguchi, President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, said. “Congress now has a chance to fix that law and change lives. We thank Senators Blunt, Hirono, Collins, and Klobuchar for their leadership and commitment to these adoptees. We urge all Members of Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019.”

“Americans celebrate when children find families through adoption,” Chuck Johnson, President of the National Council For Adoption, said. “Fixing technicalities that have unintentionally prevented thousands of legally adopted children from obtaining their U.S citizenship is right and necessary. The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 accomplishes this important goal.”

“The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is so grateful to the congressional leaders who are using their platform to eliminate barriers to permanency. The Adoptee Citizenship Act addresses a serious loophole that has left several thousand foreign-born adoptees who were legally adopted by American parents without their rightful U.S. citizenship status,” said Bethany Haley, Interim Executive Director, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. “The adoption community is grateful to Senators Blunt, Hirono, Collins, and Klobuchar for taking the initiative to solve this problem once and for all for the adopted children of American citizens."

“Adoptees for Justice is excited about the introduction of the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 in the U.S. Senate,” Becky Belcore, the Co-Director of Adoptees For Justice, said. “This represents a big step forward towards all intercountry adoptees having U.S. citizenship, which should have automatically been granted when they were first adopted by their U.S. citizen parents.”

“Holt International greatly appreciates the Senators for taking the lead on the Adoptee Citizenship Act,” Susan Soonkeum Cox, the Vice President of Policy and External Affairs at Holt International, said. “We strongly support this important legislation, which is long overdue, and will do all we can to assure its passage.”

“Every child who was lawfully brought to the United States and adopted by U.S citizen parents should be a U.S. citizen,” Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq., the Executive Director of the Center for Adoption Policy, said. “Unfortunately, until the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was passed, citizenship for internationally adopted children was not automatic. But the law passed in 2000 did not cover all international adoptees, leaving some adoptees without U.S. citizenship and the rights and privileges of which, as the children of American parents, they should have. The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019, if passed, will rectify this gap and right an injustice to adoptees that has existed for too long.”

“We must protect and foster the basic unit of our society, the family,” Richard MacIntyre, Partner at the Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship, said. “This bill will provide the long awaited right to citizenship for deserving adoptees and security to their American families.”

While the CCA guarantees citizenship to most international adoptees, the law applies to adoptees who were under the age of 18 when the law took effect on February 27, 2001. Adoptees who were age 18 or over in February 2001 fell in this loophole and were denied citizenship, despite being legally adopted as children by U.S. citizens and raised in the United States. The Adoptee Citizenship Act would fixes this problem by making citizenship automatic for international adoptees who were legally adopted by U.S. citizens as children, regardless of how old they were when the Child Citizenship Act took effect.

International adoptees who lack citizenship face many barriers, such as difficulty applying for a passport, license, or student financial aid. In some cases, outdated immigration laws have resulted in adoptees facing deportation to the country in which they were born, where they may have no known family.

Senator Hirono previously cosponsored the Adoptee Citizenship Act in the 114th and 115th Congresses.