Chadwick Files Amicus Brief to Advocate for Rights of Adopted Children Under Immigration Law

Professor Gillian ChadwickWashburn Law Clinic Professor Gillian Chadwick, associate director of Washburn Law’s Children and Family Law Center (CFLC), filed an amicus brief in federal court on behalf of the center to advocate for the rights of adopted children under immigration law.

Washburn Law’s CFLC is concerned with public policy issues affecting the welfare of children, including protecting the rights of adopted children and preserving family structures. The center works to advance the rights of children and families through such methods as serving as amicus curiae in cases where legal issues affect children and families.

Chadwick described the case as a Kansas family working to obtain legal permanent residence for their adopted child. The case turns on a provision of federal immigration law that invokes state family law to determine whether a child qualifies to obtain legal permanent residency status from a U.S. citizen parent. Chadwick’s brief analyzes the state law question under Kansas law and raises related constitutional arguments.

Legal status for foreign-born children adopted by American parents is a complex legal issue. The Adoptee Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, estimates that 35,000 adult adoptees in the United States lack citizenship, which has driven a slew of recent deportations. Many of those affected did not even know they were not American citizens until they were ordered to leave the country.

“This issue is prominent in the news today,” Chadwick said, “because foreign-born children can be adopted in the U.S. but then deported for administrative law reasons, which completely destabilizes their family. This can really ruin people’s lives. That’s why the center is interested in advocating in support of the family in this case."