Child Citizenship Act of 2000

This law amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to make citizenship automatic for many children adopted by (as well as born to) U.S. citizens outside the United States. Such children, who are not granted citizenship by birth, enter the United States as lawful permanent residents. The Act also extended protections related to deportation, to findings of “bad moral character,” and to criminal penalties associated with voting illegally and making false claims of citizenship. The law became effective on February 27, 2001. Children who met the requirements on that date, including thousands of foreign-born adoptees already in the United States, became automatic citizens, greatly streamlining one aspect of international adoptions.

TITLE I—CITIZENSHIP FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

SEC. 101. AUTOMATIC ACQUISITION OF CITIZENSHIP FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.
(a) In General.—Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1431) is amended to read as follows:

“children born outside the United States and residing permanently in the United States; conditions under which citizenship automatically acquired

“Sec. 320. (a) A child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:

“(1) At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization.

“(2) The child is under the age of eighteen years.

“(3) The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence. . . .

TITLE II—PROTECTIONS FOR CERTAIN ALIENS VOTING BASED ON REASONABLE BELIEF OF CITIZENSHIP

SEC. 201. PROTECTIONS FROM FINDING OF BAD MORAL CHARACTER, REMOVAL FROM THE UNITED STATES, AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES.

(a) Protection From Being Considered Not of Good Moral Character.—

(1) In general.—Section 101(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(f )) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“In the case of an alien who makes a false statement or claim of citizenship, or who registers to vote or votes in a Federal, State, or local election (including an initiative, recall, or referendum) in violation of a lawful restriction of such registration or voting to citizens, if each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of such statement, claim, or violation that he or she was a citizen, no finding that the alien is, or was, not of good moral character may be made based on it.” . . . .

“(D) Unlawful voters.—

“(I) In general.—Any alien who has voted in violation of any Federal, State, or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation is inadmissible.

“(ii) Exception.—In the case of an alien who voted in a Federal, State, or local election (including an initiative, recall, or referendum) in violation of a lawful restriction of voting to citizens, if each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of such violation that he or she was a citizen, the alien shall not be considered to be inadmissible under any provision of this subsection based on such violation.” . . . .

(C) Protection From Being Considered Deportable.—

(1) Unlawful voting.—Section 237(a)(6) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(6)) is amended to read as follows:

“(6) Unlawful voters.—

“(A) In general.—Any alien who has voted in violation of any Federal, State, or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation is deportable.

(B) Exception.—In the case of an alien who voted in a Federal, State, or local election (including an initiative, recall, or referendum) in violation of a lawful restriction of voting to citizens, if each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of such violation that he or she was a citizen, the alien shall not be considered to be deportable under any provision of this subsection based on such violation.”

(2) Falsely claiming citizenship.—Section 237(a)(3)(D) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(3)(D)) is amended to read as follows:

“(D) Falsely claiming citizenship.

“(I) In general.—Any alien who falsely represents, or has falsely represented, himself to be a citizen of the United States for any purpose or benefit under this Act (including section 274A) or any Federal or State law is deportable.

“(ii) Exception.—In the case of an alien making a representation described in clause (I), if each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of making such representation that he or she was a citizen, the alien shall not be considered to be deportable under any provision of this subsection based on such representation.”

 

Source: Public Law 106-395, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, available online at www.//naic.acf.hhs.gov

Page Updated: 2-24-2012
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To learn more about The Adoption History Project, please contact Ellen Herman
Department of History, University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1288
(541) 346-3118
E-mail: adoption@uoregon.edu
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