North Korean Orphans Need Our Help, Ros-Lehtinen Says
Washington, D.C. –U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, spoke today in favor of the North Korea Refugee Adoption Act (H.R. 1464), which directs the Secretary of State to develop a comprehensive strategy to facilitate the adoption of North Korean children by U.S. citizens. The measure passed the House by voice vote. Ros-Lehtinen made the following remarks in support of the bill:
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“We are all to keenly all aware of the extreme repression, malnutrition, and 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. And imagine what happens when that child is born or orphaned inside China, where the child lacks legal status or dependable access to social services.
“Malnutrition, abuse, exploitation, lack of education: these are the horrors faced by many orphans of North Korean origin, who are effectively stateless and without protection. The United States is home to the largest ethnic Korean population outside of Northeast Asia, and many of the nearly two 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 or 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 is require the State Department to 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 set forward and deserves our unanimous support.”