AUSTIN - Approximately 75,000 children became United States citizens Tuesday, a result of federal legislation praised by members of the Texas Senate.
The Child Citizenship Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 30, 2000, permits foreign-born children who are permanent U.S. residents to automatically become citizens.
A large group of adoptive parents and their children, many dressed in red, white and blue and waving small American flags, gathered at the Capitol today as the Senate commemorated the occasion.
Fort Worth Sen. Mike Moncrief said the law is "outstanding legislation" that will help speed the adoption process of foreign-born children.
"What greater gifts can we give a child than the love and expectation that adoption brings," Moncrief said. "I speak from experience, having been adopted myself and having my own adopted son."
In session, the Senate unanimously voted to adopt a resolution designating February 27, 2001 "Child Citizenship Act Day in Texas." Austin Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos sponsored the measure, Senate Resolution 282.
The Senate also voted to pass legislation aimed at protecting rural residents from unscrupulous door-to-door sales practices. The bill's sponsor, Victoria Sen. Ken Armbrister, said the elderly are especially vulnerable.
The bill, Senate Bill (SB) 452, would allow unincorporated areas to regulate door-to-door salespersons as cities currently can.
Earlier in the day, Senators Teel Bivins of Amarillo and Royce West of Dallas announced SB 940, which is intended to increase medical school enrollment by economically disadvantaged students.
The bill would create the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP), which would be open to well qualified, economically disadvantaged undergraduate students pursuing a medical education at any of Texas' 31 four-year public universities. SB 940 would require Texas public medical schools to commit at least 10 percent of their first-year enrollment to JAMP students.
Bivins, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, and West said the JAMP program can increase participation in higher education while at the same time addressing another area of need.
"My hope is that by doing three things -- identifying qualified students from all across the state who want to be doctors, giving them financial and academic assistance and guaranteeing them a place in our med schools -- we can increase the numbers of physicians serving in medically underserved areas."