Adoptive Family Relief Actby Representative Zoe Lofgren
Posted on 2015-10-06
LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 1300, the Adoptive Family Relief Act.
As has been mentioned, 2 years ago, the Democratic Republic of the Congo suspended issuing exit permits to children who had been adopted and trying to leave the country to be with their parents. To this day, that country continues to suspend issuing these permits; and without permits, the children can't join their mom and dad, the people who have adopted them, even though the children are in possession of immigrant visas.
Now, we know to be separated from a child and not to be able to provide love and care for that child is a stressful and tormenting episode for any parent. For the families that adopted children in the DRC, this is exacerbated by the fact that their children are stuck in a country that has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world.
There are hundreds of families throughout the United States--and about 350 of them are waiting simply for an exit permit--missing their children and worried about the health of their children stuck in the DRC. The only thing that is preventing them from bringing their child or children home is this exit visa.
Now, our visas are valid only for 6 months, unfortunately, and I think, as was mentioned, it costs $325 to renew a visa even though, really, there is no work involved. We have checked with the State Department, and there is minimal expense. So this is not going to be a hit on the State Department's budget, but it is a hit on the budget of families. Some families have spent $1,000 over the past 2 years, and since we don't know when the DRC is going to start issuing these visas, we don't know how much money these families are looking at in the future.
This bipartisan bill doesn't solve the exit problem, but at least it solves the financial burden that we have put, not intentionally, on these families. It is the right thing to do. It will show support for these families during this distressing time.