Houston Fighting to Help International Adoptees Gain Citizenship

Houston City Council members came out Tuesday to support a campaign to implore Congress to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act. The Act would grant U.S. citizenship retroactively to those adopted in foreign countries by U.S. citizens but not naturalized into the U.S. In 2000, the Child Citizenship Act was passed. It automatically granted intercountry adoptees U.S. citizenship. While it was a step in the right direction, the law was not retroactive, leaving adoptees 18 and older without that right.

Other bills with similar legislative purpose have been unsuccessful. Joy Alessi, co-director of the Adoptee Rights Campaign, says there could be between 35,000 and 75,000 adoptees without U.S. citizenship. Several members of the Houston City Council were previously unaware of the plight of these adoptees, but decided to pledge their support.

The failure of a 2015-2016 bill has not slowed momentum for the cause. Many steps have been taken since to ensure success. Members of the Adoptee Rights Campaign have met at over 70 Congressional offices and had strategy sessions with the Senate and House bill co-sponsors. State-specific events were organized to gain support. The Campaign raised extra funds to send adoptees to Washington to educate through their stories. They know it’s time for the law to change, and they are determined to make it happen.

The Adoptee Rights Campaign is a diverse group of intercountry adoptees. Their current goal is passing the Adoptee Citizenship Act, so that all intercountry adoptees can gain citizenship that should have received when they first arrived in this country. The purpose is to educate, organize, and advocate for adoptee rights.