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North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in strong support of H.R. 1464, the North Korean Refugee Adoption Act, of which I am a proud cosponsor.

I want to thank my good friend from California (Mr. Royce), who is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on our Foreign Affairs Committee and who is a longtime advocate on North Korean human rights and refugee issues, for introducing this important bill.

We are all too keenly aware of the extreme repression, the malnutrition, and the poverty suffered by so many inside North Korea today. Those threats often take the greatest toll on children.

Imagine what happens when a child's natural protectors--parents--are no longer in the picture. Imagine what happens when that child is born or orphaned inside China when the child lacks legal status or dependable access to social services: malnutrition, abuse, exploitation, lack of education. These are the horrors that are faced by orphans of North Korean origin who are effectively stateless and without protection.

Mr. Speaker, the United States is home to the largest ethnic Korean population outside of Northeast Asia, and many of the nearly 2 million Americans of Korean descent have family ties to North Korea. Numerous American families would like to provide caring homes to these stateless North Korean orphans. H.R. 1464 is a responsible first step toward making that possible.

This bill does not ignore the unique challenges involved with ensuring that North Korean adoptees are genuine orphans and not fraudulent victims of trafficking. It does not change U.S. immigration law, nor the legal standards for adoption. It does not reduce the need for China to begin abiding by its refugee convention obligations to vulnerable North Koreans within its borders. And it does not diminish our commitment to assisting intact refugee families or to reunifying families that are separated.

What it does do, Mr. Speaker, is require that our State Department take a broad look at the diplomatic and documentation challenges facing American families who would like to adopt North Korean orphans and report to Congress on potential strategies to address them.

Doing the right thing is not always easy.

I especially want to applaud those adoptive parents, both past and future, who invest their own lives and homes to provide loving families for some of the world's most endangered children. H.R. 1464 is a welcome step forward, Mr. Speaker, and deserves our unanimous support.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


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