Another adoptee faces deportation

U.S. adoptive parents:  Make sure your kids have their certificates of citizenship.

From New America Media:

A Korean woman in Arizona, who was adopted and brought to the U.S. when she was eight months old, is facing deportation after a second conviction for theft, reports the Korea Times. The 31-year-old mother of three is currently being held in a federal detention center in Arizona.

According to officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Seo (not her real name) was first convicted on theft charges in 2008, for which she served a seven-month sentence. She was arrested on a second theft charge in 2009, and sentenced to a year-and-half in jail. In January, ICE initiated deportation proceedings against her, requesting for a travel certificate from the Korean consulate in Los Angeles.

As I’ve noted previously, articles about adoption and citizenship often report that citizenship is “automatic” for international adoptees.   New America Media repeated the erroneous statement from the original article in Korean:

“Although [she] was adopted as an infant, she is only a green card holder and not a citizen,” says Kim, adding that adoption laws were changed after 2004, long after Seo’s adoption, to grant adoptees citizenship 45 days after their arrival in the country.

This is false. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 did grant citizenship to internationally adopted children who meet specific conditions.  And in January 2004, CIS began to issue automatic certificates  of citizenship within 45 days of arrival to children who became citizens under the Act.

However, children who arrive on IR4 visas do not obtain automatic citizenship.  Thousands of internationally adopted children are at risk if their parents do not obtain citizenship for them or if they do not file for citizenship on their own.  (Note that it’s a much easier process when the applicant is a child.)

In case you can’t tell, I don’t have the energy to froth at the mouth lately (although I can summon a spirited “Fuck you” when the occasion warrants).  You can read previous froth about immigration and citizenship by searching the blog.

So the moral of the story is get that certificate of citizenship.  That is all.

12 thoughts on “Another adoptee faces deportation

  1. If the child enters the country with an IR-3 visa (usually meaning that the adoptive parents met the child BEFORE the adoption was complete in the child’s birth country – IR3 visas are issued for a “known child,” if I remember my paperwork correctly), then citizenship is automatic, and you will recieve that certificate of citizenship in the mail a few weeks after their passports are stamped in the US. In many countries, this requires a “visit trip” before the adoption proceeds, which is a good idea for all sorts of reasons. Also, this requires that adoptive parents are on the ball, and make sure at their embassy meetings that the correct sort of visa is being issued (there was a mistake with my daughter’s visa that had to be corrected before we left the country – she was mistakenly given an IR-4 visa initially).

    If the child enters the country with an IR-4 visa (generally meaning the adoptive parents did not meet the child before their adoption was complete in their contry of origin), then the child recieves a green card when he or she enters the US, and the adoptive family will need to re-adopt the child through the courts in their state of residence, and then APPLY for a certificate of citizenship.

    Why adoption agencies are not making this abundantly clear to adoptive families (and then requiring proof of re-adoption and certificates of citizenship in post-adoption reports, as our agency did) is beyond me.

  2. Also, and I should have said this first, I am outraged that the parents of the woman (Seo?) in the article allowed this to happen. It’s called parenthood, people. It requires taking some responsibility.

  3. I’ve been told that the IR-3 visa has only been available in recent years. Adult Adoptees from adoptions in decades past may only have a green card because it was all that was available to them.

  4. My understanding is that before the law changed, all international adoptees had to go through the naturalization process. This is easier when citizen parents are applying for a minor child, more difficult for an adult with resident status.

    In any event, it is clear that adoptive parents have not understood the importance of obtaining citizenship and proof of citizenship.

  5. Many adoption agencies and facilitators either do not understand the changes in the law or did not explain them well. As you pointed out, the press fails to explain them properly – so I know more than a handful of parents who adopted before the changes thought that magically covered their 10 year olds.

    Jenn’s explanation is the most clear way of looking at it. Did you meet the child before picking up? If so, then you’ll get the CoC automatically.

  6. I hope someone can help me or at least point me in the right direction. I was adopted in December of 85 to US citizen parents. Long story short, my mother disappeared in 92 with ALL of my documents (Korean passport, any other relevant Korean documents). I have a certified copy of my adoption decree and a birth certificate issued by the state I was adopted through. However I cannot get my driver’s license renewed now and I tried to apply for a passport but I don’t have “proof of lawful entry”. Anyone else ran into this? I am planning on getting a lawyer tomorrow but wanted to see if anyone had and experience. Thank you so much in advance!

  7. Hi Catie, I would absolutely consult an immigration attorney. You should gather up all the available documentation you can, including citizenship proof for your parents. Good luck!

  8. Thank you so much for the replies, I did contact a very good immigration attorney today but the ethicanet article was VERY helpful!! Thank you both!

  9. Catie, I second the suggestion to retain an attorney. If you’re unclear about your citizenship status, your attorney could advise you and represent you before the government such as making a freedom of information request for your immigration records. You can also contact your adoption agency for records they have. Good luck!

  10. Durgamom, never did i suggest not retaining a lawyer, although I do believe that understanding the law is important for a relationship with an attorney,

    I now officially give up. I give up-tears and all.

  11. Kathy, FWIW, I’m a fan of the Ethica Guide. I’m glad Ethica developed the resource and make it available for free. I wish more adoption agencies would share it with those they purport to serve.

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