Receiving their driver’s license is a rite of passage for most teenagers. But for Jenna Sipple, it was not the celebration day they had expected. At her appointment to receive her license, she gave them her paperwork and was told that she was not an official U.S. Citizen. “She said I need proof of citizenship, and my dad said, well… here is her Social Security Card Number. Here is her passport. The lady said, ‘I can’t take any of this. … The card you have is your green card, not proof of citizenship.’”

Jenna was adopted at seven weeks old from Guatemala and was presumed to be a U.S. Citizen under the Child Citizenship Act. WXYZ reported, “But the law didn’t actually take effect until February 27th of the next year- leaving potentially thousands of parents, including Jenna’s, unaware their children weren’t covered and lacked the citizenship requirements needed.”

To get Jenna naturalized required the help of politicians and attorneys. The family had a celebration service at a local USCIS office when she became an official citizen.

Jenna’s parents wanted to make others aware of this, as there could be many others affected by the gap of time in the act. According to immigration officials in Washington, the problem stemmed from incomplete or missed paperwork that should have been done at birth. And it’s impossible to tell how many people have the same problem. They’ll have to come forward to be found.

The Sipples hope that sharing their experience can help others avoid it.

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