Saturday, January 7, 2023

Updating Registry Provision To Help Intercountry Adoptees

Editor's note:; Under INA Section 249 (Registry) the immigration law enables certain individuals who have been present in the United States since January 1, 1972, the ability to apply for a lawful permanent residence, even if they are currently in the United States unlawfully.

Guest blogger: Tessa Puetzer, law student, University of San Francisco:

While researching to learn more about the Immigration Registry, I came across an article discussing how adjusting the Immigration Registry could help intercountry adoptees adopted by US citizen parents attain citizenship. That’s when I learned something shocking—for a certain subset of intercountry adoptees (who are now adults), they were not granted automatic citizenship and are still struggling to attain citizenship today.

This USA Today article outlines a few stories of the people who fall under this category. First, I’ll summarize a bit of history. Before the passage of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, intercountry adoptees adopted by US citizens parents were not granted automatic citizenship after completing the formal adoption process. They had to be naturalized. This created issues for some intercountry adoptees, such as lost paperwork preventing completion of naturalization, misinformed legal professionals and adoption agencies telling parents their children would automatically become citizens upon completing the adoption process, and adoptive parents failing to complete the naturalization process for their adopted children. The result? There are currently around 15,000-18,000 adult intercountry adoptees who do not have their deserved citizenship.

Congress had originally recognized this issue and passed the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 that stipulated that intercountry adoptees that were fully adopted by February 27, 2001 and had not yet turned 18 would be granted automatic citizenship moving forward. Originally, the bill had included language that included adults as well, but the issue was supposed to be addressed in the next congressional session. Then, 9/11 happened, and the window for providing citizenship to “foreigners” shut tight.

What is heartbreaking to read in these stories in the USA Today article is the shock many intercountry adoptees experienced when learning they were not, as they had believed, American citizens. Some of their parents had even falsely believed their adopted children were US citizens, figuring that citizenship would automatically be granted. Many found out they were not citizens when they went to apply for passports, jobs, or universities. Others found out after they were arrested.

ICE does not track the number of intercountry adoptees who have been deported, but the USA Today article told the story of Anissa Druesedow, who was adopted at 13 by US Army sergeant and his wife. She never had any reason to believe she was not a US citizen, as she had a driver’s license and social security number. Even in 1993, when she plead guilty to multiple charges related to property crime, her lack of citizenship was not brought up. Then, when she plead guilty to third-degree felony grand larceny in 2004, ICE issued a detainer and took her into custody. She was then informed she was not a citizen and deported from the country. Her appeal to the BIA failed as well because her adoptive parents had failed to get her naturalized before her 18th birthday. In March 2006, she was deported to Jamaica where she hadn’t been since she was 6 years old (having moved to Panama at 6 and lived there until 13).

It's unacceptable for there not to be a readily available avenue for these adults, raised by Americans as Americans, to receive the automatic citizenship that should have been granted to them years ago. I was intrigued seeing that one solution, posited by Adoptee Rights Law Center, would be for Congress to update the Immigration Registry.  The registry provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a way for people continuously residing in the US without legal status to apply for admission as a legal permanent resident. It has been updated several times in the last 100 years and was last updated in 1986. Previously, the registry date had been updated generally every 20 years. It has now been almost 50 years, and the current Registry date is January 1, 1972.

Updating the Registry would not only help intercountry adoptees without legal status, it would help a large number of people who know America has their home to attain legal status. Although it does not seem politically feasible at the moment to pass such legislation considering the hateful rhetoric surrounding immigrants, we can only hope that legislators will soon be willing to consider making this long overdue change.


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You have a good case for helping the narrowly defined group you are talking about. Registry would expand the benefit to include many more groups that have no connection to the group you want to help. That is a strategy that almost guarantees failure. Consider the bill that combined a DREAM Act, which has substantial republican support, with two other, unrelated legalization program. I called it a false hope act. The best approach, though still a long shot, would be a private bill. You should be able to find a congressman who would introduce such a private bill. I prepared a number of them when I was a House Judiciary counsel. A congressional staffer calls the Office of Legislative Counsel and gives them the name of the group and a few other details and they will write the bill for you. It's a five minute conversation. The work starts after the bill is introduced. That's when you have to convince the chair of the immigration subcommittee to start the bill through the legislative process. You will need some strong support from other members to do that. If you are interested, see

Posted by: Nolan Rappaport | Jan 9, 2023 2:18:07 PM

We really need to make sure that we are taking care of those who we have already adopted into this Country,” “U.S citizenship as many Americans know is a huge part of identity and a sense of belonging. Please pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act correcting loophole which would right a wrong making it fair. We were All “Legally” Adopted. 🌹🙏 Life is short please let us reunite with our families... 🙏😭👪🤱

Posted by: Theresa | Feb 18, 2023 6:43:10 AM

Please close loophole, only fair we were legally adopted, I am legally married with us born children, paid my us taxes leased & bought us homes, had my social security number even a us tax id number, for my own business store. Please help all Legal Adoptees, return home. My daughter was a baby when I last saw her😭😭😭 she is growing up without her mom

Posted by: Theresa | Feb 18, 2023 6:51:23 AM

Does being legally married help at all, if Not than why does it exist..? :(...

Posted by: NQ | Feb 18, 2023 6:55:44 AM

Please remember we were Not brought to this country illegally.. we were All Legally Adopted, thru Court with Legally Adoption Papers, should be considered, and accepted. Completely different from all the illegal immigrants randomly coming thru to the us. Please note the Difference

Posted by: Theresa | Feb 18, 2023 6:59:39 AM

Also, my Father was a Military officer, now a Retired US Veteran.. adopted me as his Daughter, I never even knew I was Adopted.. 😭.. was treated no different from my Sister.. who is my parents Biological daughter... Please help pass The Adoptee Citizenship Act, I even worked at The Hispanic Caucaus.. walked into White House.. met US Treasure lady. My only home has only been the US.. please I don't identity were I live now, my Family is in US my kids my husband my parents. 🙏

Posted by: Theresa | Feb 18, 2023 7:05:18 AM

Found this article had to share, 😭

A favor: please keep in mind the many deported adoptees who are alone in a country with which they have little connection. They were adopted by U.S. citizens and raised in America, the place they call home.

They didn’t get U.S. citizenship, due to their adoptive parents not completing the process, or to bureaucratic snafus, or to some other reason beyond their control: they were children when they were adopted into what was supposed to be a “forever family.”

Some adoptees have been shocked to find out, as adults, that they could not prove they were American citizens. While citizenship was granted to international adoptees 18 and younger in 2000, there are estimated thousands who are now in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and older who may not even know they aren’t legal citizens.

And some have been deported, to countries where they don’t know anyone, don’t know the language, are unable to get work, and get little help from anyone.

They are lonely. Some of the older ones have serious health issues, like gout and diabetes, with little access to medications or medical care. They are not eligible for Social Security (regardless of how much they paid into it) or Medicare. They don’t speak the language, and they often have difficulty fitting in or finding a community.

Keep them in your heart, would you? Many feel forgotten. They left their original countries as little children, brought to America and (we hope) an adoptive family that loved them and kept them safe. Some deported adoptees married and have children they haven’t seen for years, and possibly never will again. I know one adoptee who has never met his own grandchildren. Some haven’t seen their siblings or parents or friends for decades, and every day can be very hard.

International adoptees should NOT be subject to deportation. It was not their fault that they did not get citizenship as children, when they were brought legally here to the U.S. (It is very hard for them to gain citizenship once they are adults.)

It’s their loneliness that haunts me, and keeps me advocating for legislation that will allow them to come home.

Meanwhile, please do not forget them.

"The Illegals coming in are treated better" 😞

Posted by: Janette | Apr 22, 2023 8:13:22 AM

Hello, Please Help Legal Adoptees. Today, children who are adopted from abroad by U.S. citizens generally receive automatic citizenship, and adoption agencies and embassies are better at informing parents about any follow-up they need to do. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 awarded citizenship retroactively to what advocates estimated were more than 100,000 international adoptees under 18 who were already in the country when it went into effect in February 2001.
But to many Adoptees it was not covered by the law because they were already18 at the time. There is an estimated of tens of thousands of people who were adopted internationally by American parents between the 1950s and 1980s but never naturalized.

For them, life has become a surreal identity crisis. They look and talk like Americans, but they are not technically Americans, though this is the only country they know.
Many adoptees in similar circumstances have begun to find each other and are uniting behind the Adoptee Citizenship Act, proposed federal legislation that would grant citizenship to anyone who was adopted by a U.S. citizen regardless of when they turned 18. It would also allow those who have been deported to return to the United States
“These adoptees grow up in American families, go to American schools and lead American lives,”
We are still in waiting, please pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act! “Reunite all these American Families!!!”

Posted by: GUEST | May 5, 2023 7:36:54 AM

Crapser’s lawsuit cited the government as responsible for allowing adoptions to be controlled by profit-driven agencies that ran on fees collected from foreign parents, and also for allowing foreigners to adopt children without actually coming to South Korea, which he blames for screening failures that matched him with abusive parents.

Good for Him,🙏
His case also highlights the shaky legal status of many South Korean adoptees in the United States whose parents may have failed to get them citizenship, potentially leaving them vulnerable to deportation if they acquire a criminal record
Happy he won lawsuit! It’s so wrong, leaving abandoning, legal adopted citizens, who lived whole life in US only home they know, Married with children, the hardship, depression, has no price, for Adoptees, and worse for Immediate family living without a parent, knowing they are stuck alone in another country, while all adoptees are us citizens living with their families, simply due to a date😭

Posted by: Michelle | May 17, 2023 2:07:54 AM

Heartbreaking and important
As someone who has been in the country for over 21 years, and newly naturalized citizen, this podcast “traumatized” me in a special way. Maybe, because I have never heard of this kind of mistreatment. This an important story, and I am glad I’ve been introduced to it, even though, these stories left me exhausted and heartbroken. I hope those adoptees will find Justice and peace as soon as possible. It's been far too long away from their loved ones.

Posted by: Cory | May 21, 2023 3:31:00 AM

These are not adults who were adopted as adults to circumvent the system of immigration,” They are adults who were adopted as children by U.S. citizens. They came into this country legally, and two governments were involved in the exchange.

“It’s an injustice that’s just never been corrected,”

Why than all the waiting?

They should be given same rights as All Adoptees now.

Posted by: Mike | May 24, 2023 7:31:42 AM

Of course this should be fixed! Thank you for shedding light on this very important issue. As someone who was also adopted, I feel for this cause and the children and adults affected by this deeply. Adoption should be treated no differently than if the child was born of those people who adopted them. You should have the same rights and citizenship as your legal parents. deny these people of all the rights of citizenship due to carelessness is shameful and to actually deport them is is cold-hearted and inhumane

Posted by: Ana | May 29, 2023 2:07:58 AM

This Memorial Day we honored all the veterans & their children.
Their children who have been living without citizenship rights because legislation failed to fix the loophole congress created!
#Fix the loophole!!

Posted by: NQ | Jun 4, 2023 10:07:20 PM

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