Senate Approves Fix to Citizenship for Inter-Country Adoptees

The U.S. Senate approved an amendment Tuesday to the immigration reform bill that provides automatic citizenship to all persons who were born outside the United States and were adopted by U.S. citizens. The provision would fix a controversial law that has led to the deportation of adoptees who lived most of their lives in the United States.

Called the "Citizenship for Lawful Adoptees Amendment," the fix would give citizenship to all of those who were adopted as children by U.S. citizens.

In 2001, inter-country adoptees were given automatic citizenship, but it was not made retro-active for those over 18 years old at the time. There are some adults in the United States today who were adopted, brought to the United States as infants, grew up in the United States, but are not citizens because their parents failed to apply for citizenship for them.

In August 2012, The Christian Post interviewed Peter Brient. Brient was brought to the United States when he was only 13 months old. He was adopted by his stepfather, a U.S. citizen. Forty-five years later, he discovered he is not a U.S. citizen when he applied for a passport.

There have been two other cases that have received media attention. In 2000, Joao Herbert was deported to Brazil, even though he grew up in Ohio and could not speak Portuguese. He died there after being shot by drug dealers. And more recently, Kairi Shepard has been in danger of getting deported to India, even though she has lived in the U.S. since she was three months old and would be unable to receive lifesaving care for her multiple sclerosis.

The "Citizenship for Lawful Adoptees Amendment" would provide automatic citizenship for people like Brient and Shepard, as well as provide a few other tweaks to the laws related to citizenship of adoptees.

The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and co-sponsored by Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

"Some adopted children, through no fault of their own, endure a precarious legal status, which can result in the horror of being deported to a country they don't remember at all, where they don't have any ties or even speak the language," Landrieu said in a statement. "My amendment provides important technical fixes to ensure that children adopted internationally by American citizen parents receive automatic citizenship, treating them the same as biological children."