Belmont Club

Who goes there?

Although attempts to introduce a bill requiring future candidates for President to produce proof of natural born citizenship have been characterized as divisive, off in another corner of Congress one ambiguity about who qualifies for natural born American citizenship is being addressed by the proposed FACE bill. Its purpose is simple: to make adopted children of American citizens the equivalent of biological children, with the same political and legal rights.

Finally, the Act also amends Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1401) which defines who is considered an American citizen from birth. This is the section of law that provides automatic U.S. citizenship from birth to biological children born to American citizens abroad. The amendment would add internationally adopted children of American citizens to this section, therefore, providing them with U.S. citizenship from birth. Thus, internationally adopted children of American citizens would have the privilege of two heritages – the heritage of their country of origin and the heritage of their new country and all the benefits that come with being a U.S. citizen from birth including the same opportunity to run for President of the United States as biological children born abroad to American parents.

To summarize, the FACE Act seeks to treat internationally adopted children of American citizens equally with biological children of American citizens born abroad. Instead of having to get an immigration visa to enter the U.S., the parents of an internationally adopted child would apply for a U.S. passport and would receive a Consular Report of Birth for their adopted child just the same as parents of a biological child born abroad. In addition, the internationally adopted child would be considered a “citizen from birth” under Section 301 of the INA and be accorded all the benefits and privileges there of.

It is amazing how, despite the claims that many persons attempted to conceal their citizenship with Canadian maple leaf stickers, becoming an American is still an attractive thing to be.  And as such the rules which determine the process are going to be important. It isn’t just the congressmen introducing prospective proof of qualification for public office that are treading on this ground. Even orphans have a right to know where they belong. So the issue is going to be addressed one way or the other. Stepping On Legos describes the politics of adoption legislation. It’s a process where little known groups contend with each other to define the rules for reasons known principally to them. But doing it thus and not otherwise must be important to somebody.

But as a point of distinction, they are not the same bill and they do not necessarily draw the same supporters. An example of this is that JCICS, who has pushed the FFOA, is not supporting the FACE act. Curious, right? Likewise member agencies within JCICS are not unanimously supporting either FFOA or FACE. There are agencies who oppose one or both, some more vocal than others.

You may have seen various “Calls to Action” in support of this legislation and maybe not so much opposition yet. That isn’t because the bills will go unopposed. It’s because the bills were written in secrecy and the various supportive efforts put in place to drive this bills through committee where all carefully planned before the legislation was ever released to the public.

As the United States grew in world importance during the closing years of the 20th century, it was inevitable that everyone would seek to shape its policies. Since citizenship is the door into the process that shapes policy, just who was in and who was out was always going to be a contentious matter. It isn’t just the 1,000 page bills that nobody understands which changes the law. Even relatively small legislation is often obscure and surrounded by a mist of competing interests. But that’s how legislation works. Otto Von Bismarck once remarked, “If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.” In a rational world the “birther” and “FACE” legislation, dealing as they do with who has claim to political rights, should each be examined on their own merits, not with reference to a “frame”. After all, not everything is about politics, just most things.

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