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[Congressional Record: September 19, 2000 (House)]
[Page H7774-H7778]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr19se00-108]                         



 
                     CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 2000

  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass 
the bill (H.R. 2883) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to 
confer United States citizenship automatically and retroactively on 
certain foreign-born children adopted by citizens of the United States, 
as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 2883

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Child Citizenship Act of 
     2000''.

   TITLE I--CITIZENSHIP FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE THE UNITED 
                                 STATES

     SEC. 101. AUTOMATIC ACQUISITION OF CITIZENSHIP FOR CERTAIN 
                   CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.

       (a) In General.--Section 320 of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1431) is amended to read as 
     follows:

 ``children born outside the united states and residing permanently in 
  the united states; conditions under which citizenship automatically 
                                acquired

       ``Sec. 320. (a) A child born outside of the United States 
     automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all 
     of the following conditions have been fulfilled:
       ``(1) At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the 
     United States, whether by birth or naturalization.
       ``(2) The child is under the age of eighteen years.
       ``(3) The child is residing in the United States in the 
     legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to 
     a lawful admission for permanent residence.
       ``(b) Subsection (a) shall apply to a child adopted by a 
     United States citizen parent if the child satisfies the 
     requirements applicable to adopted children under section 
     101(b)(1).''.
       (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections of such Act 
     is amended by striking the item relating to section 320 and 
     inserting the following:

``Sec. 320. Children born outside the United States and residing 
              permanently in the United States; conditions under which 
              citizenship automatically acquired.''.

[[Page H7775]]

     SEC. 102. ACQUISITION OF CERTIFICATE OF CITIZENSHIP FOR 
                   CERTAIN CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE THE UNITED 
                   STATES.

       (a) In General.--Section 322 of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1433) is amended to read as 
     follows:

``children born and residing outside the united states; conditions for 
                  acquiring certificate of citizenship

       ``Sec. 322. (a) A parent who is a citizen of the United 
     States may apply for naturalization on behalf of a child born 
     outside of the United States who has not acquired citizenship 
     automatically under section 320. The Attorney General shall 
     issue a certificate of citizenship to such parent upon proof, 
     to the satisfaction of the Attorney General, that the 
     following conditions have been fulfilled:
       ``(1) At least one parent is a citizen of the United 
     States, whether by birth or naturalization.
       ``(2) The United States citizen parent--
       ``(A) has been physically present in the United States or 
     its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not 
     less than five years, at least two of which were after 
     attaining the age of fourteen years; or
       ``(B) has a citizen parent who has been physically present 
     in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period 
     or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of 
     which were after attaining the age of fourteen years.
       ``(3) The child is under the age of eighteen years.
       ``(4) The child is residing outside of the United States in 
     the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent, is 
     temporarily present in the United States pursuant to a lawful 
     admission, and is maintaining such lawful status.
       ``(b) Upon approval of the application (which may be filed 
     from abroad) and, except as provided in the last sentence of 
     section 337(a), upon taking and subscribing before an officer 
     of the Service within the United States to the oath of 
     allegiance required by this Act of an applicant for 
     naturalization, the child shall become a citizen of the 
     United States and shall be furnished by the Attorney General 
     with a certificate of citizenship.
       ``(c) Subsections (a) and (b) shall apply to a child 
     adopted by a United States citizen parent if the child 
     satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children 
     under section 101(b)(1).''.
       (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections of such Act 
     is amended by striking the item relating to section 322 and 
     inserting the following:

``Sec. 322. Children born and residing outside the United States; 
              conditions for acquiring certificate of citizenship.''.

     SEC. 103. CONFORMING AMENDMENT.

       (a) In General.--Section 321 of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1432) is repealed.
       (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections of such Act 
     is amended by striking the item relating to section 321.

     SEC. 104. EFFECTIVE DATE.

       The amendments made by this title shall take effect 120 
     days after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall 
     apply to individuals who satisfy the requirements of section 
     320 or 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as in 
     effect on such effective date.

  TITLE II--PROTECTIONS FOR CERTAIN ALIENS VOTING BASED ON REASONABLE 
                         BELIEF OF CITIZENSHIP

     SEC. 201. PROTECTIONS FROM FINDING OF BAD MORAL CHARACTER, 
                   REMOVAL FROM THE UNITED STATES, AND CRIMINAL 
                   PENALTIES.

       (a) Protection From Being Considered Not of Good Moral 
     Character.--
       (1) In general.--Section 101(f) of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(f)) is amended by adding at 
     the end the following:
     ``In the case of an alien who makes a false statement or 
     claim of citizenship, or who registers to vote or votes in a 
     Federal, State, or local election (including an initiative, 
     recall, or referendum) in violation of a lawful restriction 
     of such registration or voting to citizens, if each natural 
     parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, 
     each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen 
     (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently 
     resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 
     16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of such 
     statement, claim, or violation that he or she was a citizen, 
     no finding that the alien is, or was, not of good moral 
     character may be made based on it.''.
       (2) Effective date.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
     shall be effective as if included in the enactment of the 
     Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act 
     of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 3009-546) and shall 
     apply to individuals having an application for a benefit 
     under the Immigration and Nationality Act pending on or after 
     September 30, 1996.
       (b) Protection From Being Considered Inadmissible.--
       (1) Unlawful voting.--Section 212(a)(10)(D) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(10)(D)) is 
     amended to read as follows:
       ``(D) Unlawful voters.--
       ``(i) In general.--Any alien who has voted in violation of 
     any Federal, State, or local constitutional provision, 
     statute, ordinance, or regulation is inadmissible.
       ``(ii) Exception.--In the case of an alien who voted in a 
     Federal, State, or local election (including an initiative, 
     recall, or referendum) in violation of a lawful restriction 
     of voting to citizens, if each natural parent of the alien 
     (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of 
     the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or 
     naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United 
     States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien 
     reasonably believed at the time of such violation that he or 
     she was a citizen, the alien shall not be considered to be 
     inadmissible under any provision of this subsection based on 
     such violation.''.
       (2) Falsely claiming citizenship.--Section 212(a)(6)(C)(ii) 
     of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1182(a)(6)(C)(ii)) is amended to read as follows:
       ``(ii) Falsely claiming citizenship.--

       ``(I) In general.--Any alien who falsely represents, or has 
     falsely represented, himself or herself to be a citizen of 
     the United States for any purpose or benefit under this Act 
     (including section 274A) or any other Federal or State law is 
     inadmissible.
       ``(II) Exception.--In the case of an alien making a 
     representation described in subclause (I), if each natural 
     parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, 
     each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen 
     (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently 
     resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 
     16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of making 
     such representation that he or she was a citizen, the alien 
     shall not be considered to be inadmissible under any 
     provision of this subsection based on such representation.''.

       (3) Effective dates.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
     shall be effective as if included in the enactment of section 
     347 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
     Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 
     3009-638) and shall apply to voting occurring before, on, or 
     after September 30, 1996. The amendment made by paragraph (2) 
     shall be effective as if included in the enactment of section 
     344 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
     Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 
     3009-637) and shall apply to representations made on or after 
     September 30, 1996. Such amendments shall apply to 
     individuals in proceedings under the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act on or after September 30, 1996.
       (c) Protection From Being Considered Deportable.--
       (1) Unlawful voting.--Section 237(a)(6) of the Immigration 
     and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(6)) is amended to read 
     as follows:
       ``(6) Unlawful voters.--
       ``(A) In general.--Any alien who has voted in violation of 
     any Federal, State, or local constitutional provision, 
     statute, ordinance, or regulation is deportable.
       ``(B) Exception.--In the case of an alien who voted in a 
     Federal, State, or local election (including an initiative, 
     recall, or referendum) in violation of a lawful restriction 
     of voting to citizens, if each natural parent of the alien 
     (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of 
     the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or 
     naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United 
     States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien 
     reasonably believed at the time of such violation that he or 
     she was a citizen, the alien shall not be considered to be 
     deportable under any provision of this subsection based on 
     such violation.''.
       (2) Falsely claiming citizenship.--Section 237(a)(3)(D) of 
     the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(3)(D)) 
     is amended to read as follows:
       ``(D) Falsely claiming citizenship.--
       ``(i) In general.--Any alien who falsely represents, or has 
     falsely represented, himself to be a citizen of the United 
     States for any purpose or benefit under this Act (including 
     section 274A) or any Federal or State law is deportable.
       ``(ii) Exception.--In the case of an alien making a 
     representation described in clause (i), if each natural 
     parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, 
     each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen 
     (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently 
     resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 
     16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of making 
     such representation that he or she was a citizen, the alien 
     shall not be considered to be deportable under any provision 
     of this subsection based on such representation.''.
       (3) Effective dates.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
     shall be effective as if included in the enactment of section 
     347 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
     Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 
     3009-638) and shall apply to voting occurring before, on, or 
     after September 30, 1996. The amendment made by paragraph (2) 
     shall be effective as if included in the enactment of section 
     344 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
     Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 
     3009-637) and shall apply to representations made on or after 
     September 30, 1996. Such amendments shall apply to 
     individuals in proceedings under the Immigration and

[[Page H7776]]

     Nationality Act on or after September 30, 1996.
       (d) Protection From Criminal Penalties.--
       (1) Criminal penalty for voting by aliens in federal 
     election.--Section 611 of title 18, United States Code, is 
     amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(c) Subsection (a) does not apply to an alien if--
       ``(1) each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of 
     an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or 
     was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization);
       ``(2) the alien permanently resided in the United States 
     prior to attaining the age of 16; and
       ``(3) the alien reasonably believed at the time of voting 
     in violation of such subsection that he or she was a citizen 
     of the United States.''.
       (2) Criminal penalty for false claim to citizenship.--
     Section 1015 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by 
     adding at the end the following:
     ``Subsection (f) does not apply to an alien if each natural 
     parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, 
     each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen 
     (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently 
     resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 
     16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of making 
     the false statement or claim that he or she was a citizen of 
     the United States.''.
       (3) Effective dates.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
     shall be effective as if included in the enactment of section 
     216 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
     Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 
     3009-572). The amendment made by paragraph (2) shall be 
     effective as if included in the enactment of section 215 of 
     the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility 
     Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 3009-572). The 
     amendments made by paragraphs (1) and (2) shall apply to an 
     alien prosecuted on or after September 30, 1996, except in 
     the case of an alien whose criminal proceeding (including 
     judicial review thereof) has been finally concluded before 
     the date of the enactment of this Act.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Smith) and the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith).


                             General Leave

  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  (Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to revise and 
extend his remarks.)
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, H.R. 2883, the Adopted Orphans 
Citizenship Act, is designed to streamline the acquisition of United 
States citizenship by foreign children after they are adopted by 
American citizens. The bill makes the Federal Government a partner with 
parents who, with great compassion, adopt children from overseas.
  The original bill was improved by an amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt). I want to thank him for 
suggesting the changes made in the amendment. He speaks with great 
credibility since he and his wife adopted a daughter from Vietnam at 
the end of the Vietnam War.
  Under current law, when U.S. citizens adopt a child from another 
country, the child does not automatically become an American citizen. 
The parents have to apply to the Attorney General for a certificate of 
citizenship and the child then has to take the oath of allegiance 
required of naturalized citizens. This process can take years because 
of the naturalization backlog at the Immigration and Naturalization 
Service.
  There is no reason to make adoptive parents and their new children to 
have to go through this laborious process.
  After an adoption takes place and the child is brought to the United 
States consistent with United States immigration law, the child should 
automatically be considered a citizen.
  This bill provides that internationally adopted children, and those 
children born to U.S. citizens overseas who are not considered citizens 
at birth, will become citizens as of the time they come to reside in 
the United States.
  I should point out that it two U.S. citizens have a child overseas, 
the child is not considered a citizen at birth if neither parent has 
had a residence in the United States. Also, if a U.S. citizen and an 
alien have a child overseas, the child is not considered a citizen at 
birth if the citizen parent has not lived in the United States for five 
years, at least two of which were after the age of 14. Under current 
law, such individuals have to go through a petition process in order to 
obtain citizenship.
  The adopted children covered in this bill will be considered citizens 
automatically when certain conditions have been met.
  First, at least one parent has to be a U.S. citizen. Second, the 
child must be under 18. Third, the child must be residing in the United 
States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent.
  H.R. 2883's grant of citizenship will also apply to qualifying 
children who arrived in the United States prior to its enactment and 
have not yet obtained citizenship pursuant to the Immigration and 
Nationality Act (as it existed before enactment).
  The manager's amendment to the bill addresses the situation of aliens 
who have improperly voted in federal, state or local elections, or 
represented themselves as citizens for the purpose of registering to 
vote or to procure benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act 
or any other federal or state laws. The amendment is intended to 
provide a limited class of aliens with exemptions from the penalties in 
the Immigration and Nationality Act and title 18 governing illegal 
voting and false claims of citizenship.
  In some cases, individuals had a reasonable--if mistaken--belief that 
they were citizens of the United States. This can occur among foreign-
born children brought to the United States at a young age if their 
parents did not realize that the children did not become citizens 
automatically. Of course, the enactment of H.R. 2883 and its expansion 
of automatic citizenship to more foreign-born children of U.S. citizens 
will greatly reduce the number of cases in which such a mistake can be 
made.
  One such case is that of a Korean orphan adopted at the age of four 
months by an American Air Force Master Sergeant and his American wife 
while they were stationed overseas. That orphan entered the U.S. with 
her adoptive parents when she was two years old and has spent the rest 
of her life in this country. it was only after she became an adult that 
it became known to her that her parents had never filed the necessary 
papers to naturalize her prior to her eighteenth birthday. 
Consequently, under current law, she is subject to potential 
deportation and even prosecution because she mistakenly voted, thinking 
she already was a U.S. citizen. It simply would not be fair to subject 
such an individual to penalties under the immigration law for genuinely 
innocent acts.
  The protections in the managers' amendment (title II of the bill) are 
granted to an alien if: (1) each natural or adoptive parent of the 
alien is or was a citizen of the United States; (2) the alien 
permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 
16; and (3) the alien reasonably believed at the time of voting or 
falsely claiming citizenship (to obtain an immigration or other benefit 
under federal or state law) that he or she was a citizen of the United 
States.
  An alien who meets this standard is protected against a finding that 
the alien was not of good moral character (among other things, a bar to 
naturalization), and is protected against being considered inadmissible 
or deportable. In addition, an alien who meets this standard shall not 
be subject to prosecution under sections 611 and 1015 of title 18.
  All of these amendments are effective as if they were included in the 
relevant sections of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
Responsibility Act of 1996.
  I urge my colleagues to vote for H.R. 2883.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume. I thank the gentleman from Texas for his work. Let me as 
well add my support for this legislation and thank the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt) for his leadership. This simply clearly 
allows an adopted child as we all believe in this country has equal 
status with our own birth children, this adopted child that is adopted 
by a citizen of the United States will now have the same rights as a 
child born overseas to a citizen parent. I believe this legislation 
clearly promotes children's interests and puts children first.
  Finally, I think it is important to note that we protect those 
individuals who vote, who believed because of their status with a 
citizenship parent that they had in fact citizenship, did not 
intentionally vote incorrectly inasmuch as they may not have had 
citizenship. It protects them from criminal prosecution so that the 
matter can be remedied and protects the voting privileges of the United 
States but also protects those who are well intended.
  Again, let me applaud both the chairman and the ranking member of the

[[Page H7777]]

full committee, again the chairman of this committee and as well 
indicate that I hope my colleagues will support this legislation, H.R. 
2883.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, 
H.R. 2883. This bill would amend section 320 of the Immigration and 
Nationality Act, the ``INA,'' to include adopted children within its 
provision for automatic acquisition of citizenship in the case of 
certain children born outside of the United States who have a citizen 
parent. It also would amend section 320 of the INA to include adopted 
children within its provision for citizenship through the 
naturalization process for children born outside of the United States 
to a citizen parent who cannot under current law qualify for automatic 
citizenship.
  Including adopted children within the provision for automatic 
citizenship would greatly reduce the time and paperwork required for 
adoptive parents to procure citizenship for their children. I think it 
is very important to do away with unnecessary distinctions between 
children by birth and children by adoption, particularly with respect 
to such things as paperwork requirements. The United States citizens 
who adopt foreign born children have enough paperwork to do in the 
adoption process.
  The Child Citizenship Act also provides protections for certain 
aliens who vote in a United States election on the basis of a 
reasonable belief that they are citizens of the United States. It would 
protect them from being precluded from a finding of ``good moral 
character,'' which is necessary for a number of important benefits 
under the INA, such as naturalization. It also would protect them from 
being considered inadmissible or deportable for voting in the election, 
and from certain criminal sanctions.
  Voting in a United States election is one of the most precious rights 
of citizenship. I agree that people who vote knowing that they are not 
eligible for this privilege should be subjected to removal proceedings 
and in some cases to criminal prosecution, but I do not want this to 
happen in the case of a person who has a good faith belief that he is a 
citizen of the United States and has a right to vote. The law on 
automatic citizenship is difficult even for lawyers to understand. I am 
not at all surprised that people make mistakes when they interpret 
these provisions.
  I urge you to support this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman 
from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt), the moving person of this 
legislation and one with a direct and very special interest and thank 
him for his leadership.
  Mr. DELAHUNT. I thank the gentlewoman from Texas for yielding me this 
time.
  Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to join my good friend from 
Texas, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, in 
support of this amended bill. I want to express my truly profound 
gratitude to him for his willingness to address the concerns that were 
raised by the administration and others regarding the bill as 
originally introduced. The bill before us is a consensus effort. In 
this time of cynicism about government and the sometimes strident 
debate we hear, this kind of bipartisan effort should remind the 
American people that Members with different perspectives who work hard 
and act in good faith can accomplish an excellent and bipartisan 
result. Again, I thank the gentleman from Texas for his leadership.
  I also want to acknowledge the critical involvement of Senator Don 
Nickles, the author of the companion bill in the Senate, as well as 
Senators Kennedy and Landrieu who worked so closely with us to get this 
measure, hopefully, to the President's desk.
  Finally, let me express my appreciation to a number of key staff 
members without whom we would not be here today. I notice George 
Fishman, counsel to the subcommittee, and Peter Levinson of the full 
committee staff also played a key role. I would be remiss not to note 
the contribution of a Senate staffer, McLane Layton of Senator Nickles' 
staff, who has not only been a major force behind this legislation but 
is herself the parent of children adopted from Latvia. Her concern and 
passion to remedy discrimination against adopted children is truly 
remarkable. I would also be remiss not to mention my own legislative 
director who has poured his heart and soul into this effort, Mark 
Agrast.
  Mr. Speaker, today is truly a good day, a day that has been long in 
coming for adoptive parents like myself who feel deeply that their 
children who were born overseas have been treated differently, as if 
they were less American than are children who were born in the United 
States. For the law currently provides that our foreign-born sons and 
daughters are aliens. They do not have the benefits of citizenship when 
they arrive on our shores, come into our homes and fill up our lives 
with joy and love. No, we must petition for naturalization on their 
behalf, as if we, their parents, were not American citizens. That is 
unacceptable to Americans who have adopted and particularly for those 
who are considering adoption. That lengthy process of naturalization 
requires them to deal with a bureaucracy that is already overburdened 
and lacking in resources, for no valid reason. It is insulting to 
parents who have already overcome innumerable administrative obstacles 
to adopt our children and to bring them home. And more importantly, it 
is disrespectful to our children.
  This bill would change all that. Under the bill, citizenship would be 
conferred automatically on all adopted children once they are in the 
United States. Parents will no longer be required to submit an 
application to have their children naturalized. Adopted children will 
no longer be the subject of discrimination. And parents will no longer 
need to worry about whether their children are citizens or not. And, of 
course, the INS will be relieved of the need to spend its limited 
resources on some 16,000 naturalization cases for the past year alone, 
and that number is expected to increase.
  Furthermore, this bill would avoid some heartbreaking injustices that 
have sometimes tragically occurred. Some parents have discovered to 
their horror that their failure to complete the paperwork in time can 
result in their forced separation from their children under the summary 
deportation provisions Congress enacted back in 1996.
  That was the experience of the Gaul family of Florida who adopted 
their son John at the age of 4. Though he was born in Thailand, he 
speaks no Thai, has no Thai relatives, knows nothing of Thai culture 
and has never been back to Thailand, until the U.S. Government deported 
him last year as a criminal alien at the age of 25 for property 
offenses that he had committed when he was a teenager.
  One may ask how this could happen. The Gauls had obtained an American 
birth certificate for John shortly after adopting him and did not 
realize until he applied for a passport at age 17 that he had never 
been naturalized. They immediately filed the papers; but due to INS 
delays, his application was not processed before he turned 18. An 
immigration judge ruled that the agency had taken too long to process 
the application, but that did not make any difference. The 1996 law 
allowed him no discretion to halt the deportation. At least that is how 
the INS interpreted it.
  In another recent incident, Joao Herbert, a 22-year-old Ohioan 
adopted as a young boy from Brazil, was ordered deported because as a 
teenager he sold several ounces of marijuana to a police informant. It 
was his first criminal offense, for which he was sentenced only to 
probation and community treatment. But under the law he was an 
aggravated felon subject to deportation because he had never been 
naturalized. He has now been in detention for a year and a half because 
the Brazilians consider his adoption irrevocable and refuse to accept 
him. And were they to do so, it is uncertain how he would get by. Like 
John Gaul, he knows no one in his native country and no longer 
understands his native tongue.
  No one condones criminal acts, Mr. Speaker; but the terrible price 
these young people and their families have paid is out of proportion to 
their misdeeds. Whatever they did, they should be treated like any 
other American kid. They are our children, and we are responsible for 
them.
  Finally, Mr. Speaker, the bill provides relief from deportation to 
one particular group of noncitizens who are subject to deportation 
under the 1996 law, namely, those who voted or registered to vote in 
U.S. elections in the reasonable mistaken belief that they were 
citizens at the time. This is a modest but important change that will 
correct a glaring injustice in our immigration laws.
  The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 enjoys bipartisan and bicameral 
support

[[Page H7778]]

and the full support of the administration. Again, I want to thank the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith) and his staff and our colleagues at 
INS for their cooperation and hard work in enabling us to reach this 
result. I urge all of my colleagues to join in support of this 
legislation.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to 
support this legislation to remedy this important flaw in our 
immigration laws.
  Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back 
the balance of my time.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume. I want to thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. 
Delahunt) for his generous comments.
  Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to join my good friend from 
Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt) and other members of the Judiciary 
Committee in support of H.R. 2883, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, 
as amended. And I want to thank all Members who worked together to find 
common ground so that this legislation could move forward in a way that 
was acceptable to the Administration as well as the House and the 
Senate.
  Over the course of the last year and more, the Committee on 
International Relations has been working on implementing legislation 
for the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption, which this House 
took up and passed last night. This brought to my attention once again 
the difficult, and what must sometimes seem endless, procedures faced 
by U.S. citizens in adopting foreign-born children. We have all had 
constituents who have called our offices, desperate for help in solving 
last minute difficulties that have arisen in their search to build 
their family. After all the exhausting paperwork, extensive travel, and 
sometimes heart-wrenching experiences associated with so many 
international adoptions, it is unfortunate that U.S. families must 
negotiate yet another paper maze to obtain U.S. citizenship for their 
children. This additional hurdle is particularly difficult because upon 
their return many parents look forward to settling down to the joy of 
family life and its new challenges; they are not seeking yet more forms 
to fill out and move through the Immigration and Nationalization 
Service.
  It was for this reason that I was the original co-sponsor of H.R. 
3667, introduced by my good friend from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt, 
which has now been combined with the measure the House is taking up 
today. Once these children arrive in the United States, and the 
adoption is finalized, these children should be U.S. citizens, without 
going through a further naturalization process. And that is what H.R. 
2883 does.
  But we should remember that this is not just to avoid paperwork or 
ease mental discomfort. H.R. 2883 will end the occasional instance of 
injustice perpetrated by our immigration system. As mentioned by 
colleagues, there are tragic cases where children of U.S. parents, 
never naturalized because of inadvertence, are facing deportation 
because of a crime they have committed. While these children must face 
their punishment, to deport them to countries with which they have no 
contact, no ability to speak the language, and no family known to them 
is needlessly cruel. We must be sure that this never happens again.
  I once again commend the sponsors of this legislation on both sides 
of the aisle and hope for its expedited consideration in the Senate.
  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that my colleagues have 
passed H.R. 2883, the Adopted Orphans Citizenship Act, and I wish to 
add my strong support for this long overdue legislation. H.R. 2883 
would restore fairness to our immigration law by removing the 
burdensome requirement that U.S. citizen parents apply for 
naturalization for their foreign-born adopted children.
  What our current immigration policy says to parents is that adopted 
foreign-born children are not equal to their biological siblings and 
are not worthy of automatic U.S. citizenship. Requiring foreign-born 
adopted children to apply for naturalization is insulting and it's 
wrong. with the passage of H.R. 2883, we are sending a clear message to 
American parents that, should they choose to adopt a child from another 
country, U.S. citizenship will be awaiting that child once he or she 
sets foot on U.S. soil. As the aunt of Korean-born Jamie and Natalie, I 
strongly identify with this issue.
  The birthright of all children of U.S. citizen parents, whether they 
are biological or adopted should be automatic U.S. citizenship. This 
bill will simplify the already complicated and complex process parents 
undertake when they embark on an international adoption and I applaud 
its passage.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, 
and I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 2883, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  The title of the bill was amended so as to read: ``A bill to amend 
the Immigration and Nationality Act to modify the provisions governing 
acquisition of citizenship by children born outside of the United 
States, and for other purposes.''.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________





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