[Congressional Record: February 27, 2002 (Extensions)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ENACTMENT OF THE CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT
HON. WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, February 27, 2002
Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Speaker, for all our colleagues in this chamber,
the days are long and the rewards often intangible. Once in a great
while, however, the results of our work together are so compelling that
it's worth stopping for a moment to take notice.
In this spirit, I rise today to celebrate the first anniversary of
the implementation of the Child Citizenship Act of 2001. With the help
of a remarkable bipartisan coalition--Congressmen Henry Hyde and Lamar
Smith; Senators Don Nickles, Mary Landrieu and Ted Kennedy, to name
just a few--we made history for tens of thousands of American families,
and for the scores of overseas orphans they have embraced as their own.
On February 27, 2001, United States citizenship was conferred
automatically on every young child under age 18 adopted by American
parents. By the most conservative estimates, more than 150,000 children
woke up that morning as American citizens.
The joy of that sunny morning brimmed on the faces of adoptive
families, their relatives and neighbors from coast to coast.
Spontaneous commemorations, public and private, sprouted up in dozens
of communities across the country, from Atlanta to Alaska.
It was a special pleasure to help host the national celebration one
year ago today, in Boston's historic Fanueil Hall. Since its
construction in 1742, that hall has occupied a hallowed place on our
nation's trail toward freedom. It witnessed the revolutionary speeches
of Samuel Adams, the anti-slavery oratory of Frederick Douglass, and
the stirring call of Susan B. Anthony for women's suffrage. Last
February 27, we gathered in that cradle of liberty to mark another step
The new law lives not only in the bright eyes of these children and
the pride in their parents' hearts, but also in the story of human
compassion. In addition to those ``overnight citizens'' of last
February 27, the Child Citizenship Act has conferred automatic U.S.
citizenship upon the lawful completion of each international adoption
since. In 2001 alone, U.S. parents adopted over 4600 orphans from China
and 4200 from Russia, 1700 from South Korea, 1600 from Guatemala, 1200
from Ukraine, 700 from each of Romania, Vietnam and Kazakhstan; 500
from India; 400 from Cambodia; and hundreds more from Bulgaria,
Colombia, the Philippines, Haiti, Ethiopia, Poland, Thailand, Mexico,
Jamaica, Liberia, and dozens of other nations--altogether, more than
19,000 overseas children since the new law took effect.
Each is now a United States citizen. Not one had to struggle with the
red tape or expense of the naturalization process. No federal agency
was saddled with reams of paperwork to process their cases.
The real meaning, of course, cannot adequately be measured in
statistics. The deepest gratification lies in the strengthening of the
family--the American family and the universal, extended family of which
we are all a part. During the Faneuil Hall celebration, my own daughter
Kara, herself a beneficiary of the Saigon Babylift 26 years ago and a
naturalized citizen, stressed that U.S. citizenship is not a rejection
of one's country of origin, but rather an opportunity to weave a new,
deeply personal heritage.
The enactment of the Child Citizenship Act was a model of bipartisan
legislative collaboration. I still hope to build on this success to
address, either administratively or through additional legislation, a
number of questions that remain about the Act's application to children
of American citizens living abroad.
My only real disappointment--last February and still today--is the
reluctance of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to
streamline its protocols for issuing certificates of citizenship.
Many of the 150,000 who assumed citizenship last year, and those
since adopted, naturally desire official affirmation of their new
status. Thousands have taken advantage of the new State Department
procedures to acquire United States passports. The process is so
straightforward that Senator Kennedy was able to hand-deliver the first
such passport in the nation on the stage at the Fanueil Hall
celebration, within two hours of the legislation taking effect.
Inexplicably, however, the INS still has not followed suit. If an
adoptive child who is now a U.S. citizen seeks an INS certificate, he
or she must undergo the same lengthy, expensive and cumbersome process
that faces a non-citizen seeking naturalization. This procedure is
irrationally burdensome for both the applicant and the agency; and it
offends nearly everyone who has the misfortune to have to undergo it.
These children are already American citizens. All adoptive parents
want is a piece of paper affirming that fact. It should be no harder
than getting a driver's license--or a passport.
Fortunately, this problem cannot negate the enormous benefits the law
has conferred on adoptive families and our entire community. Especially
in the wake of September 11, as we all struggle against global
misunderstanding, this new law helps fulfill the lifelong dream of
thousands of families and shows enormous respect to the compassion of
our own great, diverse and generous nation.
Share this page
Bookmark this page
The leading immigration law publisher - over 50000 pages of free information!
© Copyright 1995- American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM