Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), introduced the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021 to provide U.S. citizenship to international adoptees brought to the U.S. as children but were never granted citizenship. The legislation would close a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), which has prevented internationally-adopted children, who are now adults, from receiving U.S. citizenship despite being raised by American parents.

“I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021 with Congressman John Curtis to finally give U.S. citizenship to these international adoptees,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Through no fault of their own, there are thousands of adoptees who were brought to the U.S. for adoption as children but never gained citizenship. These individuals grew up in the U.S., started careers and families here, yet they do not live with the privileges of being citizens. Our legislation will end this injustice and bring much needed certainty for impacted adoptees, granting them U.S. citizenship.”

“The importance of the family is something that Utahns treasure and a value that I have worked to protect while in Congress,” said Congressman John Curtis. “I am proud to introduce the Adoptee Citizenship Act which will give peace of mind to international adoptees and parents and reunify many Utah families. Specifically, this bill will ensure automatic citizenship for all international adoptees and close a loophole that barred thousands from U.S. citizenship. I look forward to working with my colleagues, such as Representative Smith, to advance legislation like the Adoptee Citizenship Act that strengthens and supports families.”

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) eliminated the need for many adoptive families to apply to naturalize and gain citizenship for their newly-adopted children, but the law only applied to adoptees who were under the age of 18 when the law took effect on February 27, 2001. The loophole denies citizenship to adoptees who were age 18 or over in February 2001, even though they were legally adopted as children by U.S. citizens and raised in the United States; it did not apply retroactively to those adoptees who faced the same dilemma but aged into adulthood before the CCA took effect.

For these international adoptees, the U.S. is the place they grew up and the place they call home. Yet, through no fault of their own, they never received their citizenship and are living in uncertainty about their future. Without citizenship, these international adoptees face many barriers, such as having trouble applying for a passport, license, or student financial aid. In some cases, they have been deported to the country in which they were born, where they may have never lived and have no known family or friends.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021 introduced today corrects this gap in the law by confirming international adoptees’ U.S. citizenship status, regardless of when they were adopted or their age at the time the CCA was passed. This important bill provides much needed certainty to adopted Americans who have had difficulties attending college, accessing banking services, and starting their careers simply because of paperwork and process oversights during their childhood.

In addition to the broad, bipartisan congressional support for the Adoptee Citizenship Act, the bill has garnered widespread praise among the leading adoption advocacy organizations, immigration groups, faith-based organizations, and Korean American civic and community organizations. 

Endorsing Organizations: Adoptee Rights Campaign, Korean American Grassroots Conference, National Council For Adoption (NCFA), National Immigration Forum, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, NAKASEC, The Niskanen Center, Adoptees for Justice, Adoptee Advocates, Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Center for Adoption Policy, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

Statements of Support:

Adoptee Rights Campaign:

“Children adopted into American families grow up on the principles of productive work and independence. However, without citizenship, adoptees are economically and politically disenfranchised and lack a sustainable way forward. The Adoptee Citizenship Act is the only remedy for ensuring all intercounty adoptees can fully access their rights as Americans. We are encouraged by Representatives Smith and Curtis's bipartisan sponsorship and we look forward to advancing this critical legislation.”

Korean American Grassroots Conference:

“We appreciate Rep. Smith and Rep. Curtis for their bipartisan leadership on providing a sensible solution to the crisis tens of thousands of adoptees face,” said Wonseok Song, executive director of the Korean American Grassroots Conference, the largest nationwide network of Korean American voters. “Based on family values and compassion, the Adoptee Citizenship Act is a major step in fulfilling the promise of providing a home to the intercountry adoptees who are part of American families in all aspects but paper. The Korean American community is home to the greatest number of impacted adoptees, and KAGC along with its partner organizations is committed to supporting all those affected.”

Chuck Johnson, President & CEO, National Council For Adoption:

“NCFA supports the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021. Congress intended citizenship for children being internationally adopted by American citizens, but a complicated and confusing immigration and visa system confused many adoptive families and many parents failed to complete the citizenship process on behalf of their minor children.  The Adoptee Citizenship Act provides the citizenship that was originally promised to these children through their adoption and coming to America.” – Chuck Johnson, National Council For Adoption.

National Immigration Forum:

“The Adoptee Citizenship Act is an example of the kind of bipartisan, proactive cooperation on immigration that Congress needs more of,” said Jacinta Ma, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Immigration Forum. “Immigration legislation that recognizes and protects families with just, compassionate solutions is a step in the right direction for all Americans. Congress should move forward with this legislation and uphold the values that define our nation.”

Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute:

“The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is so grateful to Representatives Smith and Curtis for introducing this long awaited legislative fix, to fully enshrine in U.S. law the legal precedent of treating children who are adopted as equal to biological children. This bill will help remove an impossible barrier for adoptees whose adoptive parents did not know they needed to take additional steps to seek U.S. citizenship for their children after their adoption finalizations. The adoption community is grateful for congressional champions whose initiative and leadership will solve this problem once and for all for adopted children of U.S. citizens."

NAKASEC:

“As an Asian American network that has always had intercountry adoptees within our leadership, the NAKASEC network applauds the re-introduction of the Adoptee Citizenship Act. We are excited to work with our co-sponsors to ensure citizenship for all intercountry adoptees during this legislative cycle.” – Becky Belcore, Executive Director & intercountry adoptee/NAKASEC

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association:

“The Adoptee Citizenship Act represents an opportunity for Congress to positively change lives in a deserved and meaningful way,” said A.B. Cruz III, President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “Through this bipartisan legislation, tens of thousands of international adoptees will be granted the citizenship they deserve. We thank Congressmen Adam Smith and John Curtis for their leadership. We urge all Members of Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2020.”

Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship:

"The family is the fundamental unit of society and it must be safeguarded. Adoption creates a family and providing citizenship to all intercountry adoptees helps preserve the family." – Kurt Cappelli, Founding Partner, Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship 

Kristopher Larsen, Adoptees for Justice:

"Intercountry Adoptees have been left out far too long, this bill would bring a relief to so many impacted adoptees in the US and provide them with the securities of US Citizenship."

Anissa Druesedow, Adoptee Advocates:

"This bill will help reunite many impacted adoptees with their families and lead to citizenship. It will finally bring the rights that should have been granted at the time of adoption so many years ago.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after voting to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, legislation which will address the crisis of systemic racism and police brutality.

“Almost one year ago, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who knelt on his neck, suffocating him for over eight and a half minutes. For far too long, America has grieved George Floyd and countless others killed by police brutality, enduring profound pain and sadness without any accountability for the perpetrators of senseless, racist acts of violence. Systemic racism continues to permeate the fabric of our country’s institutions putting Black Americans and other communities of color at risk, but Americans from every walk of life across the country have been demanding action and change. Today, we honor the lives of all those killed by police brutality and systemic racism by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

“The Justice in Policing Act takes a comprehensive approach to curb police brutality and end racial profiling. To raise the standard of conduct across the country, the bill implements a set of recommendations and best practices formulated by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing drafted by over 150 police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, community leaders, and other law enforcement professionals. The bill bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants, mandates racial bias training, and institutes a duty to intervene for officers observing police misconduct. It also mandates the use of body cameras on every uniformed police officer. The bill invests in transformative community-based policing programs and mandates rigorous data collection on police encounters to ensure law enforcement remains accountable and responsive to community needs.

“Departmental reforms are an essential step but there can be no justice without accountability. The bill reforms the doctrine of qualified immunity so that individuals and families who have been harmed or experienced police brutality can have their day in court without sacrificing due process. The bill also increases funding for investigations into departments that demonstrate a pattern and practice of discrimination and racial bias, establishes a task force to coordinate investigations related to law enforcement misconduct, and creates a National Police Misconduct Registry.

“It is vital to recognize that safeguarding public safety means investing directly in communities in ways that relieve the strain on police departments as the sole source of emergency assistance. This bill supports critical programs that reinvest in our communities by establishing public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities develop concrete alternative policing practices that create accountability.

“I stand in strong support of my colleagues on the Congressional Black Caucus who introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I will continue to work with them to implement the dramatic changes required in all aspects of our society to end systemic racism. This bill is a great first step, but there is still much more work to be done to combat racial injustice and end police brutality. I will work with my colleagues and the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure this crucial legislation becomes law and build on this bill to address systemic racism, end police brutality, and saves lives.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement today after the House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a package to protect and expand voting rights, restore integrity to government, and democracy reform put the needs and priorities of the American people ahead of special interests.

“Today, I voted with House Democrats to answer the call from the American people to restore our democracy with a broad package of reforms to take on campaign finance regulations, expand voting rights, and combat corruption with improved transparency and ethics in all three branches of the federal government. As we see a historic number of attacks and proposed restrictions on voting rights propagating in state legislatures across the country, Congress must make good on our promise to restore and protect the most basic and consequential civic duty of every American. Everyone must be guaranteed a voice in our democracy and H.R. 1 is a critical first step in restoring that promise.

“H.R. 1 will modernize voter registration and increase access to support free and fair elections with more equitable electoral practices fit for the 21st century. By instituting automatic voter registration, requiring early voting options, supporting voting by mail, and increasing voting locations especially near public transportation, this legislation will empower voters across our country and ensure their voices are heard at all levels of government. It ends the practice of partisan gerrymandering, which has allowed political parties to choose their voters when it should be voters picking their representatives. This bill will also take steps to end the dominance of big money in political campaigns by upgrading online political advertisement disclosures and requiring all organizations involved in political activity to disclose their large donors to prevent hidden sources of political spending.

“These protections will ultimately empower citizens and ensure their representatives remain transparent and accountable to them. H.R. 1 paves the way to restoring the Voting Rights Act and pushing back on the Supreme Court’s misguided Citizens United ruling. Renewing the public’s confidence in our democracy and accountability requires a comprehensive approach. I am proud to support this important step in reforming our electoral process to increase transparency and integrity in our democratic process.

For more information about H.R. 1, see the policy fact sheet here.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the House passed the American Rescue Plan Act, comprehensive legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

“Last week, the United States reached the solemn milestone of 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19. The dire health impact of the pandemic has been followed by enormous ongoing economic consequences for individuals, families, and businesses. Amidst this suffering, I believe there is finally reason for optimism with vaccine distribution expanding and disease prevalence falling. The American Rescue Plan passed in the House is enormously important to continue this progress and is crucial to help combat the virus, get our children back in the classroom safely, ramp up equitable vaccine distribution, extend and expand unemployment insurance, and provide immediate economic relief for families.

“Combatting the pandemic must be the number one priority of relief efforts. Building on the work of the Biden Administration, the American Rescue Plan Act will bolster the national vaccination plan, scale up testing and contact tracing, address shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), and resolve inequities in our health care response. The bill makes critical investments to increase the capacity of local and tribal public health agencies who are on the frontlines of pandemic response. After repeated refusals from Republicans last year, Democrats are finally providing additional resources to state and local governments that will help protect the jobs of first responders, frontline public health workers, teachers, public transit workers, social service providers, and other essential workers that we all depend on.

“Students, educators, and parents have worked tirelessly to make virtual learning work during the pandemic. The $130 billion investment in K-12 schools included in the American Rescue Plan will help make safe re-opening possible by helping local school districts secure additional PPE, hire additional support staff, and repair ventilation systems. To help close the digital divide, the bill vastly increases support for expanding broadband services in underserved communities.

“The economic support in the bill provides an immediate lifeline for those in need and paves the way for long-term recovery. It expands and extends unemployment benefits, increases direct housing and nutrition assistance, and expands access to childcare. The American Rescue Plan will also make health insurance more affordable for millions of people by significantly expanding subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, incentivizing Medicaid expansion in states, and increasing the health insurance subsidies for individuals who lose their job. The bill includes a long-sought temporary expansion of Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, lifting millions of children and individuals out of poverty. While the question of inclusion of the minimum wage increase remains unclear in the Senate, the $15 minimum wage increase for 27 million workers—many of whom have worked through this pandemic as essential workers—is a necessary step to lift them out of poverty and strengthen our economy.

“The American Rescue Plan should not be a partisan bill; it does what is necessary to meet the scope of the crisis we face. I urge the Senate to act quickly so we can get relief to people as soon as possible.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the House voted to pass the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act which would provide permanent protections for millions of acres of public lands and waters to conserve these iconic landscapes, promote outdoor recreation, and protect communities from the impacts of the climate crisis.

“As communities across the country feel the consequences of climate change, this important legislation recognizes the need to make the expansion and protection of public lands a key component in our response to the climate crisis. This bill permanently protects public lands and waters by designating approximately 1.5 million acres of wilderness and incorporating more than 1,000 river miles into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. It also withdraws more than 1.2 million acres of public land from new oil and gas and mining claims.

“Under the leadership of Congressman Derek Kilmer, the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act included in the package would permanently protect the last remaining acres of ancient and mature forests on the Olympic Peninsula. With the support of tribes, local communities and businesses, conservationists, and the outdoor recreation industry, this legislation will help nature-deprived communities access parks and public lands, protect areas sacred to Indigenous peoples, ensure clean and safe drinking water, preserve wildlife habitats, and promote the outdoor recreation economy.

“President Biden has proposed necessary climate goals, including protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. These designations will get us closer to that goal and promote access to clean water, clean air, and healthy outdoor recreation opportunities while supporting local economies and historically underserved communities.”

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