The bill would help intercountry adoptees who are without US citizenship by amending current immigration law, plus making the changes and the law retroactive for people born after 1940.
U.S. House Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Alma Adams (NC-12) have introduced the Equal Citizenship for Children Act in Congress in an attempt to fix loopholes in current law that deny US citizenship to thousands of intercountry adoptees despite being adopted by US citizen parents as children decades ago. The bill already has seventeen House co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats. It has yet to be assigned a bill number or appear on the Congressional legislative site, but a copy of the bill is here.
Adoptees United has an initial bill analysis on its federal legislative tracking page, though we continue to analyze specific provisions. While the analysis is also provided below, ongoing changes and updates to the bill will only be indicated on AU’s federal legislation page.
Equal Citizenship for Children Act of 2023
Introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), the Equal Citizenship for Children Act would amend current law so that those who were or are under 18 years of age and residing in the United States in the legal custody of a US citizen parent (whether adoptive or biological and including naturalized US citizens) would automatically acquire US citizenship, retroactive to those born after 12:00pm EST on January 9, 1941. The person, while under the age of 18, must also have been residing in the United States as a legal permanent resident (i.e., possessed a green card) or had a “pending application to adjust status to lawful permanent resident.”
The key provision for intercountry adoptees is retroactivity, which would assure US citizenship for intercountry adoptees so long as they had met the requirements of the Act while under the age of 18. Presumably, this would include previously deported adoptees (though this may be complicated and needs more analysis). It would not, however, apply to intercountry adoptees or others who arrived in the United States on a non-immigrant visa (e.g., a tourist/visitor visa) and who did not obtain a green card while under the age of 18. The act also dispenses with a requirement of physical custody of the child with their US citizen parent(s), and clarifies the definition of a child to include 1) “the nonmarital child of a legal custodian citizen father” and 2) the child of a US citizen parent if the parent-child relationship is recognized under US or foreign parentage laws.
The bill already has seventeen co-sponsors in the House, including Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Greg Casar (TX-35), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Glenn Ivey (MD-04), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Barbara Lee (CA-12), James P. McGovern (MA-2), Grace Meng (NY-06), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-2), David J. Trone (MD-06), Juan Vargas (CA-52), and Nikema Williams (GA-05).
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