Two adoptees deported

U.S. ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Make sure your children have their proof of citizenship.

According to this article, both Jess Mustanich and and an unidentified adoptee from Japan (probably Alejandro Ebron) have been deported.

Mustanich, who was six months old when he was adopted, has been deported to El Salvador. His parents never filed for citizenship; according to the story his father took the paperwork to the INS in 1988 but was turned away.

In Ebron’s case (I’m assuming it’s Ebron because he’s described as a child adopted from Japan when he was one), his parents filed the citizenship paperwork and were granted a hearing in 1961. However, Ebron’s father was out of the country at the time and his mother was told that he needed to be present.

The first article also erroneously notes the following:

While a 2000 law made citizenship virtually automatic for most adopted children brought into the United States, it doesn’t apply retroactively.

According to the Department of State, in 2007 there were 18,748 immigrant visas issued to orphans from the top twenty sending countries. Of these, 5,580 were IR4 visas. Children who arrive on IR4 visas do not receive automatic citizenship. They must complete additional requirements and then file for a change of status.

That means that 5,580 children, or 29.7 percent, from the top twenty sending countries potentially might not receive citizenship through their parents’ errors or omissions. And that’s just for 2007 alone.

Wonder how many more Jess Mustanichs there are out there.

8 thoughts on “Two adoptees deported

  1. That is not exactly true. If the child was readopted in the US they do have automatic citizenship. If however, they were not readopted they do not. You do not have to file for a change of status. Citizenship is automatic once the readoption is complete. You do not need to file for a COC, you can apply directly for a passport. Se below from the State Dept. web site.

    [blah blah blah]

  2. “Additional requirements” can be readoption. It can also be adoption. It can be recognition of foreign adoption. But in the end, the CIS has the final determination of whether or not its requirements for citizenship have been met. That is why it is is crucial for parents with children who arrive on an IR4 visa to file for the certificate of citizenship.

    Complicating this is the fact that in some countries one parent in a two-parent family can complete an adoption which is considered full and final by the sending country but not by the U.S.

    The CIS does not necessarily accept a passport as proof of citizenship. It prefers to make its own determination.

  3. Resistance, do you have information about instances where CIS would not accept a US passport as proof of citizenship? I’m asking because we discussed this at length in our house and ultimately decided not to shell out the additional $ for the Certificate, instead immediately applying for our child’s passport upon finalization. We based our decision on our family’s experiences with providing proof of citizenship (my DH and his family are all immigrants of color, who have always used their passports as proof of citizenship. Their naturalization certificates have been gathering dust in bank vaults, some for almost 40 years…)

  4. Yes, I personally know of two citizens who were required to provide proof of citizenship because the passport was not accepted. One was petitioning for a non-citizen spouse and one was adopting intercountry. Other cases that I’ve read involved CIS making its own determination of citizenship and not accepting passport as final proof.

    Short answer, I would shell out the money:

    1. Certificate of citizenship does not expire, passport does. Child may not be financially fixed to continually renew passport as s/he becomes an adult.

    2. Filing for and receiving the certificate ensures that the *CIS* has a record of citizenship. This is especially important for children who arrive on IR4 visas; otherwise CIS never has a record that they became a citizen.

    3. Sometimes more than one proof is required. Additionally, sometimes one proof has to be mailed off somewhere. I personally prefer to have more than one proof, thus ensuring that even if one leaves my hands I still have another.

    4. CIS does not accept other determinations of status. It prefers to make its own. In one case that I linked in another post, a citizen is at 3 years and counting. Good thing he’s not deportable.

    5. Political climate increasingly hostile towards immigrants and persons of color, if passport is doubted I like having another form of proof readily available. Personal knowledge of a number of cases in which proof of citizenship was demanded where it shouldn’t have been required, including one in which child with certificate of citizenship was required to have certificate of citizenship for parent before passport was issued.

    6. Very difficult for adult adopted persons to obtain naturalization or certificate of citizenship as adults, often complicated by death or estrangement of parents or loss of original adoption documents. Better for CIS to have the records in its file that certificate was issued.

    7. Time for adjudication of citizenship often quite lengthy especially when based on documents other than citizenship proof. If you’re being held in custody or face imminent deportation, time may be of the essence.

    I’m sure there are more but these are just off the top of my head.

  5. Thanks so much for taking the time to write all this out. I’ll definitely re-open the discussion tonight.

    Amazingly, the USCIS website actually states in the section on international adoption that for proof of citizenship you can either get the Certificate or get a U.S. passport. How F’d up is it that they don’t follow their own directions? (Rhetorical question – I know that it’s classic government style…)

  6. Another thing to consider: if you’re ever traveling and need a visa, or in the process of renewing passports, you may have to mail your passport off. My daughter just went to Ghana on a study trip. The university required all students to mail their passports so the u. could get the visas together. My daughter had to meet them in NYC, trusting that her prof would show up with the passport. This made me very nervous.

    We’ve always renewed in person while living overseas, but I think here you have to mail in for renewal depending on location. That’s time where you are WITHOUT your passport and trusting the system to return/renew it for you …


  7. Passport is a TRAVEL document to show your right of abode. When the country you are traveling to refuses your entry, they know where to ship you.

    Though a passport is widely accepted as a form of proof of citizenship, it doesn’t show HOW one becomes a U.S citizen. For naturalized U.S citizen, COC record will show exactly how one become U.S citizen. For U.S born citizen, your birth cert will do the job. That’s why in some tricky situations, you must show either the COC or birth cert. CIS may want to know exactly HOW you become citizen, not just the fact that you are one.

    Please get the COC for your adopted children.

  8. I saw this and just had the comment.

    I’m 19 years old. I’ve been in the United States since I was 4 months old (adopted from Paraguay).

    Three weeks ago my college informed the I was not listed as a citizen (which explains why they’ve been asking for my birth certificate for the past two years non stop). A trip to the social security office revealed this was not a mix up, I really had never ever been a citizen of this country. For 19 years I have never been legal.

    We got it sorted out, I’ve been a citizen for two weeks now. Thank god, though, I have never committed a crime or else I would be facing the same problems as these two adoptees. I cannot speak a lick of spanish, I hate spanish food, I’d be in a really bad place.

    So any adoptive parent who see this, really really make sure your child is a citizen. And do everything you can to ensure it.

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