U.S. ADOPTIVE PARENTS of internationally adopted children: Make sure your children have their certificate of citizenship and a valid passport. Brown folks, get a passport card. And stay out of Arizona.
She was adopted from a Mexican orphanage and brought to the U.S. Now she’s being detained pending deportation proceedings. Her parents never obtained citizenship for her.
And if you ever wanted proof that adopted persons of color raised in white households don’t retain white privilege, just read some of the article comments.
Immigration and citizenship are going to become explosive problems in the near future, whether or not President Obama has the “appetite” (I’d say the “stomach”) to deal with them now. And this is evident in the adoption community, where white privilege and willful ignorance of anti-immigrant sentiment keeps parents from protecting their children.
I ran the numbers in a previous post and I predict there will be a lot more deportations of adult adopted persons in the years to come. As it stands, there are more than a dozen documented cases of adoptee deportations. In addition, last April the AP documented 55 cases of citizens erroneously deported. Erroneous detentions have spanned time periods ranging from one day to five years.
Most recently, a Fresno-born trucker was taken into custody after he stopped at a weigh station. Upon questioning, he provided his social security and his CDL. He was taken away in handcuffs and held until his wife could arrive with his birth certificate. (I’d note that she prudently brought her own birth certificate, just in case.)
I don’t think that speaking English “without an accent” prevents idiots from assuming you were born outside of the country. I got yanked out of the “citizen” line when returning to the U.S. once, despite the fact that I always take care to hold my passport in a visible manner and despite my lovely command of the English language. And the number of times I’ve been told I have an accent (or that I speak English “really well”) are too many to count. People hear and see what they want to hear and see. Better to have a widely-recognizable proof of citizenship.
Children who were internationally adopted by white parents (or transracial adoptees of certain hues) additionally need this protection. The problem is that their parents either don’t recognize the need or refuse to accept that the experiences of their children will differ greatly from their own. They also don’t recognize that their own privilege speeds citizenship when their children are minors.
In addition, adoptive parents may lose crucial documentation or may die without giving it to their children. Without the required paperwork, adult adoptees who wish to obtain citizenship or proof of citizenship on their own will face a difficult battle. Last year an agency worker told me that the number of adoptees contacting the agency in an attempt to get help with acquiring citizenship had increased dramatically. Often they are estranged from their parents. And as adults, they are required to undergo the same citizenship process as everybody else. Which means long and cumbersome.
In 2007 alone, more than 5500 children arrived on IR4 visas. This means they will not acquire citizenship until their parents complete additional requirements. That is not counting the children who arrive in the U.S. under “humanitarian parole.” In 2010, more than 800 Haitian children arrived in the U.S. using this temporary permission.
“Humanitarian parole” has never been intended to be used as a path towards citizenship. The USCIS states this on its website:
Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.
USCIS may grant parole temporarily:
- To anyone applying for admission into the United States based on urgent humanitarian reasons or if there is a significant public benefit
- For a period of time that corresponds with the length of the emergency or humanitarian situation
Parolees must depart the United States before the expiration of their parole. You may submit a request for reparole, which must be approved by USCISis or her stay in the United States. Parole does not grant any immigration benefits.
Despite this, the USCIS also gives advice to potential adoptive parents about how to obtain citizenship for their children. According to the website, children with humanitarian parole must either be adopted legally in Haiti or the parents must file a petition for an alien relative after the child has been with them for two years. However, humanitarian parole is usually granted for a period of not more than one year.
Ten bucks says a large percentage of those 800+ parents are going to screw it up.
So adoptive parents, use your privilege and make sure you have your paperwork in order. Then start thinking about immigration as an issue that affects all of us, and not just the brown with brown parents.