Washington, D.C. – The Senate passed a bill this week that would help parents of internationally adopted children correct errors on their child’s birth certificate. U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., joined 11 other senators in cosponsoring the Accuracy for Adoptees Act lead by Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. The bill would require the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to recognize state court orders that amend a child’s birth date.
The Wyoming senators’ offices have been working closely with the Michael and Stacy Sweeney family of Sheridan to help them resolve issues with four of their children’s Ethiopian birth certificates. It soon became apparent that it was going to take an act of Congress to get the immigration service to cooperate. The Sweeney’s asked the senators to help and they joined their colleagues introducing the Accuracy for Adoptees Act on October 30.
Currently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service only recognizes the original birth certificates from the child’s country of birth. For children who were orphaned or lacked proper medical care in their countries of birth, the ages given on their certificates may be incorrect, which often become apparent once the child has been screened by a physician, or begun to develop in the U.S. While a state court judge can make the decision to amend the date based on this evidence, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will not recognize such an order and federal agencies like the State Department and the Social Security Administration follow the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service date of birth. This results in children growing up with a discrepancy that makes it hard to get things like a Social Security card or drivers licenses and leaves them vulnerable to identity fraud.
The House is expected to consider the bill early next year. Enzi and Barrasso believe the Senate’s unanimous passage Thursday night bodes well for the bill’s consideration in the House.
Other cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and David Vitter (R-La).