In a major move for immigrants, last week, Ami Bera, the Indian American Democratic Congressman from California, along with Congresswoman Deborah Ross, Senator Alex Padilla, and Senate judiciary committee chair Dick Durbin called for the passage of America’s CHILDREN Act. This Act is bipartisan legislation meant to protect documented dreamers, who are dependents of long-term non-immigrant visa holders, from ageing out of the system when they turn 21.
During the announcement, the lawmakers were joined by a group of documented dreamers sharing their personal stories supporting the bill. The legislation will allow children of those who immigrated to the country legally but are yet to get a green card because of a massive backlog to stay in the country even after turning 21.
Around 40 of these children, who have created the ‘Improve the Dream’ group, joined the lawmakers at the press conference.
“We’re a nation of immigrants, one generation after another bringing with us our heritage, our culture, our religions, our traditions – all woven together. That’s America’s strength, and that’s what this is about,” said Congressman Bera.
We’ve got to fix this flaw in our immigration system. We ought to welcome these kids to be part of that next generation to continue to move our country forward, ” he added
The 40 youth members of Improve The Dream from all across the country came to the United States Capitol to advocate the bill. Improve The Dream is a youth-led organisation, founded by Dip Patel, that advocates for children of legal immigrants who have grown up in the United States, but have no clear path to citizenship because they “age out” of the system at 21. They are often referred to as documented dreamers.
For Improve The Dream this was one of the first opportunities where over 20 young immigrants from the organisation visited the White House last week and met with senior immigration administrators to discuss the issue of ageing out and the green card backlog for affected youth. They met senators and representatives from Indiana, Florida, Iowa, and other states.
At a press conference with the members of The Dream held at the Capitol, Congresswoman Ross expressed her support for the bill. “Documented dreamers grow up in our communities, attend our schools, and learn alongside our children. They love our country and want to give back to the people and places that raised them. These inspiring young people represent the very best of America. It’s been a privilege to work with them—and with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to design bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will have a positive impact on so many promising lives. Let’s give documented dreamers the chance to stay in the country they love and call home,” Congresswoman said.
Senator Padilla also spoke supporting the bill, “Our broken immigration system is failing to meet America’s needs in the 21st century. One major failure of the broken immigration system is the lack of protection for documented dreamers. For these young people who came lawfully, turning 21 means facing an impossible choice – either to leave your family and self-deport to a country that you may barely remember or to stay in the United States living undocumented and in the shadows. We will not give up because documented dreamers and millions of other immigrants deserve better,” the Senator said.
Thanking the Senator and Congresswoman, Dip Patel, founder of Improve the Dream, said that the organisation was started with the vision that all children who grow up in the United States should have a clear path to citizenship and that passing America’s CHILDREN Act will end ageing out and bring the vision to life.
The data shows that over 200,000 children and young adults are living in the United States as dependents of long-term non-immigrant visa holders (including H-1B, L-1, E-1, and E-2 workers). These individuals grow up in the United States, attend American schools, and graduate from American universities. Because they have maintained legal status, documented dreamers are not eligible for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy or the work authorisation that comes with it. Last July, Representatives Ross, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Andy Kim introduced the bipartisan America’s CHILDREN Act in the House and companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Padilla and Rand Paul. If passed, the Bill would permanently end aging out and provide a pathway to permanent residency for these young people.