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Committee Approves Bill on Citizenship for Foreign-Born Adoptees

On July 26, the House Judiciary Committee approved, by voice vote, a bill (H.R. 2883) that would aid American families adopting foreign-born children. The Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims approved the bill on July 11 (see The Source, July 14). Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), sponsor of the bill, explained that the measure would “streamline citizenship” and ease the “naturalization backlog.”

Under current law, American families adopting foreign-born children must apply for citizenship separately. However, anecdotal evidence has demonstrated that some families are unaware of this requirement. Instead, they assume that citizenship is automatic or that the paperwork was filed with the adoption papers.

The bill as introduced would have granted citizenship retroactively to foreign-born children adopted by United States citizens.

During the mark-up, Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) offered a compromise amendment, which granted citizenship to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizens automatically upon their arrival in the U.S., or at the finalization of adoption proceedings. The amendment was designed to address Democrats’ concerns that retroactive citizenship would erase a child’s past. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) commended the measure, calling it an “excellent compromise.” The companion bill (S. 1486) to H.R. 2883, sponsored by Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), was passed by the Senate last October. However, Rep. Delahunt stated that an agreement had been reached with Sen. Nickles to pass the House version of the bill, thereby eliminating the need for a House-Senate conference.

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