Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hague Orphan Immunization Bill

I wanted to pass this information along to all of you adoption advocates out there. This was a recent post over at the Johnson Family Blog:

Those who are embroiled in the new post-Hague I-800 process are currently experiencing an unexpected result of the Hague implementation. Prior to 1997, internationally adopted children often were subject to massive numbers of vaccinations in Guangzhou in order to satisfy United States immigration requirements. In 1997, Congress unanimously approved a law amending immigration law and allowing adopting parents to bring a notarized vaccination waiver with them to the Consulate in Guangzhou instead, saying they would take care of their childrens' vaccinations upon returning safely home and under the supervision and advice of their own physician. For nearly 12 years this process has gone on without any problem, complaint or concern.

Another exemption (which does not apply to Chinese orphans) was passed in 1999-again unanimously - which provided for an exemption for older siblings of adopted orphans to also be able to be adopted into the same family (otherwise the age limit on the US side is less than 16).

Then, in 2006, Congress amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to comply with the newly-signed Hague Convention. Unfortunately, they did this by creating a new definition of orphan child - complete with new section number and reference in the INA. But all the previously approved protections and exemptions only specifically referenced the original section number of the original definition of orphan child. These protections were LOST because they
did not specifically reference the new definition, and because whoever wrote the law did not check for cross-references in other parts of the law!! Because these cross-references in the INA were not checked, vaccination waivers went from being available to all internationally adopted orphans to only those from NON-Hague countries. The Notice from the Guangzhou Consulate-General is below:\.html

There is a bill right now in the Senate Judiciary Committee to correct this mistake. It is Senate Bill 1376. The link to the bill is here:

It has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It will then go to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security. The link to the Subcommittee is below, and contains links to contact information for Committee members.

The Subcommittee members are:

Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY]
Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX]
Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL]
Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA]
Sen. Charles Grassley [R-IA]
Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ]
Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-VT]
Sen. Jefferson Sessions [R-AL]
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]
Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR]

If you live in one of these states, please contact your Senator and ask them to act on Senate Bill 1376 and re-instate the protections and exemptions that Congress so unanimously approved in 1997 and 1999, and which clearly were accidentally not extended to orphans covered under the Hague Convention.

Thanks for your help!

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