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Bush Signs Foreign-Born Kids Bill

August 6, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush on Tuesday signed legislation ensuring that children born to American parents outside the United States don’t lose their place in line for permanent residence status when they turn 21.

The measure was aimed primarily at naturalized American citizens who want to bring their children from their home country to join them in the United States, said Michael Shields, spokesman for Rep. George Gekas, R-Pa., who authored the bill.

Foreign-born children under 21 are supposed to get immediate consideration for visa petitions. But if the Immigration and Naturalization Service, because of backlogs, doesn’t begin processing the petition until after the applicant becomes 21, the person is shifted to a different category and the application process can be extended for years.

The backlogs are especially long for immigrants from Mexico and the Philippines, Shields said.

Under the new measure, passed easily in both the House and Senate, the immediate relative status is determined when the application is made, not when the INS begins processing it.

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