Before I share my reasons for opposing this legislation, I recommend that everyone go out and read all of the following:
- US Department of State: Child Citizenship Act of 2000
- EACH's supporting point of view
- Ethica's opposing point of view
- Holt's opposing point of view
- S. 1359 (introduced by Senators Landrieu and Inhofe)
- H.R. 3110 (introduced by Representatives Watson and Boozman)
I want you to see this from a couple of different angles, including the language in the legislation, before I share my problems with it. They start with deficiencies in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA 2000,) which grants citizenship to intercountry adoptees upon arrival in the US. There's a loophole in this law that excludes adoptees 18 and over which has led to adoptee deportations, as well as the death of at least one, Joao Herbert.
The fact that this loophole still exists almost ten years and numerous deportations later demonstrates a failure on the part of lawmakers to understand the adoption experience. I can think of few things that take place at the hands of our legal system as unjust as deporting someone who was brought here by Americans, raised here, whose life and family is here, and who may know absolutely nothing of the language and culture of the birth country.
FACE does nothing to correct this serious flaw. It would simply eliminate the visa process and make citizenship retroactive to birth upon finalization of an adoption. If it is to pass, there will be no overturning of adoptee deportations, no retroactive granting of citizenship to adult adoptees. ith child trafficking a real and present danger in intercountry adoption, this makes no sense.
EACH, one of the major supporters of the legislation, gives reasons like reducing adoption fees, speeding up the process and making it possible for transnational adoptees to run for president. These first two focus primarily on adoptive parent needs, but the last one really puzzles me, because it honestly seems a little silly in light of the adoptee deportations that have already taken place and are pending. It's certainly not an adoptee citizenship battle I would have picked, not here and now.
Would I like to see my children be able to run for President one day if they so choose? Of course, if that's what they want to do. But I know a whole lot of other people I'd like to see be able to do that, too - my friend Mark Keam, who is running for delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates, springs immediately to mind, and I bet you all know plenty of others. You may find yourself excluded from seeking this high office, for that matter.
I don't want to set my Korean-born children apart from Mark and others in their Korean American community. I want to redress the failures of the CCA 2000, and address the bigger picture of immigration reform, and immigrant rights and responsibilities. For this reason, I see FACE as counterproductive to the broader discussion, and believe it would set a dangerous precedent.
Holt raises important concerns having to do with respect for adoptee history, with which I agree:
- By conferring citizenship retroactive to birth, FACE creates a legal fiction and diminishes adoptees' birth history
- Current immigration procedures requires the preservation of child history and records by the Central Authority. Adoption information and records are regularly lost or misplaced by families requiring adoptees to seek their birth and adoption history. That information is preserved for them, but FACE would eliminate the preservation of this critical information.
I'm also having difficulty understanding FACE would speed up the granting of citizenship. The CCA of 2000 grants citizenship upon arrival, which in my case pre-dates finalization (FACE's citizenship milestone) by over six months. The difference is that FACE would make the attachment of citizenship retroactive to the child's birth. If ensuring that intercountry adoptees obtain citizenship speedily is the goal, FACE is unnecessary. I think the real driver has nothing to do with this, though. I think it has to do with adoptive parent desire to make their internationally-adopted children look just like birth children in the eyes of immigration law.
Only they're not.
Please write your legislators today and urge them to oppose this legislation. When you do, remind them to plug the CCA 2000 age loophole, to overturn the adoptee deportations that have already taken place, and to grant immediate citizenship to all intercountry adoptees who were excluded by the CCA 2000.
But don't forget: Fixing the CCA of 2000 is only a part of the work we need to do to reform and improve our country's immigration laws. It's a starting point that's of particular importance to adoptive parents, but can't be where our involvement ends.