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By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

A new bill has been introduced in the Senate this week which would provide automatic U.S. citizenship for international adoptees.

Introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and co-signed by Senators Dan Coates (R-IN) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015 (S.2275) would close a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which left out adoptees who were already 18 when that act first went into effect.

“When it passes,” Kevin H. Vollmers, Executive Director of Gazillion Strong, told NBC News, “thousands of international adoptees—who were promised their citizenship when they were brought into the U.S. as infants and children by the U.S., their adoptive parents, and adoption agencies—will finally be able to participate in rights and privileges that they should have had from the beginning: vote, open bank accounts, get driver licenses and passports, pursue employment and promotions, and the like.”

If passed, not only will the act grant retroactive U.S. citizenship to all international adoptees regardless of when they were adopted, it will also create a clear pathway for adoptees who have been deported for minor crimes and have served their sentences to come back to the U.S.

"The issue is simple: the bill ensures that adoption is the creation of a legal family, no strings attached,” Kelsey Yoon, a Washington D.C.-based attorney and international adoptee, told NBC News. “The next stage of our efforts will be focused on raising awareness and encouraging people to reach out to their senators and representatives to express their support for this bill as it still needs to pass both the House and the Senate. It is crucial that Congress knows that their constituents support this bill."

This is the first federal law that is being crafted and pushed through the legislative process by adoptees for adoptees.


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