That is the conservative estimate of international adoptees without citizenship in America. Thirty-five thousand promises broken. Thirty-five thousand cracks that expose the lie of American honor and let seep the darkness within. The continued existence of such injustice exposes the inherent flaws in a system where the adoption and immigration processes were completely separate until the passage of the Childhood Citizenship Act (CCA) of 2000. Yet, inexplicably, this law only applies to children born after 1983 and whose adoptive parents secured their legal permanent residency.
The right thing to do would be to extend the automatic granting of U.S. citizenship to ALL international adoptees regardless of when they were adopted and regardless of their immigration status under the old paradigm. For America to keep its promise to adoptees, it should grant the correct immigration status as an inherent part of the adoption process. A promise made by the US State Department itself on their website explaining inter-country adoption:
Generally speaking, to qualify as an adoption for immigration purposes into the United States, the adopted child must have the same status and relationship to the adoptive parents as a child by birth.
America, honor your promise.
Because, let's not forget that international adoption has expanded beyond its humanitarian and charitable post-World War II roots into a private industry. Private agencies that, by virtue of their accreditation by the United States government are allowed to charge money to bring children from one country, across borders, to another. And yet, the American government does not complete the process and grant all adopted children automatic citizenship. There is a word for the practice of transporting human beings from one place to another, facilitated by the exchange of money, and stripping them (or never granting in the first place) their rights. Human trafficking. By failing to grant citizenship to all international adoptees, the American government is engaging in human trafficking.
The lives of adoptees without citizenship are ones of both knowing and unknowing uncertainty. Knowing for those aware of their undocumented status; who live in fear of being found out at any time. Unknowing for those unaware until they seek things as seemingly simple and mundane as a driver’s license, passports, even home loans, only to be confronted by the shocking news that they are not American citizens, but rather an ‘illegal alien’. This is cruelty of monumental proportions for its victims and one of existential importance for the United States as a whole.
It reveals the complete lack of morality in American politics. Granting international adoptees citizenship is simply and clearly the right thing to do. There is not one reasonable argument against it. But while one party, Republicans, have abandoned all pretense of decency and righteousness, the other, Democrats still play lip service to their ‘higher’ ideals. While they pledge solidarity with DREAMers and promise to fight to save DACA, they remain deafeningly silent on the issue of adoptees without citizenship.
Democratic politicians are craven cowards. They cynically attempt to hide their playing of small ball politics under the guise of ‘pragmatism’. They try to pawn off horse trading political deals as monumental victories of good over evil; forever pushing the promise of a “socially just society” further off into the horizon to maintain their position as our Forever Champions against the enemies at the gate. This narrative is false, a feint. If ones opponent can never set their feet, then they can never punch and you are safe.
As expressed to me by a friend who is an adoptee without citizenship, “As long as any child was legally adopted, they should be given their lawful citizenship.” Anything short of that ideal is criminal, an injustice that cannot stand.