Monday, July 3, 2017

Retroactive Citizenship for All Adoptees

It makes for a boring lede, but let's start with the definition of fairness:

Free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice.
With that in mind, I give you the story of Korean adoptees returned to Korea because their American parents never filed citizenship papers. These are adults who have spent 20, 30 or more years in the U.S., having arrived as children (often very young children). In the case of Phillip Clay, he struggled with addiction and committed some acts classified as crimes. Because his parents had not made him a citizen, he was deported in 2012 at the age of 37.

After five years in South Korea, this American with bipolar disorder jumped off a tall building and died.

There are as many as 35,000 other international adoptees who are not citizens, all brought here before the year 2000 when the Child Citizenship Act was passed to automatically grant citizenship to adoptees. That law, however, was not retroactive to the hundreds of thousands who had already been adopted before then.

Why wasn't it made retroactive? A bit of searching has turned up no details on why the CCA only covered children who were minors at the time of its passage, or younger. It seems bizarre to me, but I'm sure there was some screwed up deal between lawmakers that led to this stupidity.

There is a bill working its way through Congress to fix this injustice. It has bipartisan sponsorship (including one of my senators, Amy Klobuchar). Passing it would be one small part of making this society more just. I hope it can pass and be signed into law even in this dysfunctional time.

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