WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed his bill, H.R. 1593, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021, which was included in the America COMPETES Act of 2022, a package of bills passed today in the House of Representatives by a vote of 222 – 210.
“Today, I am incredibly proud to say that my bill, the Adoptee Citizenship Act, was passed by the House of Representatives as part of the America COMPETES Act. This is a major step forward for many international adoptees who currently do not have U.S. citizenship. This bipartisan piece of legislation would finally grant citizenship to international adoptees who were brought to the United States as children but were never granted citizenship. These individuals grew up here and started careers and families, but through no fault of their own they never received citizenship and are living in uncertainty about their future. The Adoptee Citizenship Act will provide much needed certainty to affected adoptees, ensuring that these individuals have full access to their rights as American citizens.
“I appreciate the leadership of my co-leads on this legislation – Representative Curtis (R-Utah) and Senators Blunt (R-Mo.) and Hirono (D-Hawaii). And thank you to the numerous organizations, advocates, and impacted adoptees who continue to work tirelessly to build support for this issue. I look forward to working with my colleagues to keep this provision in the final agreement between the House and Senate.”
Families who adopted children from abroad were previously required to go through a lengthy process to naturalize and gain United States citizenship for their adopted children, in addition to the long, costly, and burdensome adoption process. Sometimes, the necessary paperwork was not entirely completed, and significant numbers of adoptees grew up for years unaware that they were living in the United States as non-citizens.
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) eliminated the need for many adoptive families to apply to naturalize their newly adopted children. This law grants automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States under the age of 18 and have at least one parent who is a U.S. Citizen. It applied to all future adoptees as well as those under the age of 18 who were adopted prior to the CCA’s effective date.
Unfortunately, the 2000 CCA law only applied to future adoptees, and adoptees who were under the age of 18 on its effective date; 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.
The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021 introduced by Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and John Curtis (R-Utah) corrects this gap in the law by confirming international adoptees’ U.S. citizenship status, regardless of if they were over the age of 18 when the CCA took effect.
Read the full text of the amendment here.