United States’ lawmakers have moved to reintroduce legislation that would offer immigration relief to children of long-term visa holders, a significant number of whom are of Indian-origin.
US Senator Alex Padilla (D-California), chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, and US Congresswoman Deborah Ross (D-North Carolina) at a press conference yesterday announced the reintroduction of the bipartisan America’s Children Act, which they stated was drafted to protect over 250,000 Documented Dreamers living in the United States.
The press conference featured a group of Documented Dreamers visiting Capitol Hill; they spoke about the hardships they face as a result of loopholes in the outdated immigration system. The lawmakers are introducing this bipartisan legislation amid growing calls for Congress to advance commonsense immigration reforms.
It should be noted that Documented Dreamers comprise minors who entered the US legally with their parents who immigrated with long-term immigrant visas such as the H-1B visa. Their legal status is different from conventional Dreamers, the term used to refer to the children of illegal immigrants.
Dip Patel, founder of Improve the Dream, a youth-driven organisation looking to raise awareness of the issue, was also present at the event.
“Fixing this loophole will ensure that America reaps the benefits of the contributions of the children it raised and educated. Ending aging-out will empower people to tap into their talents and ambitions. And that won’t be possible if we continue to waste the product of our country’s investments by forcing thousands of American-raised and educated children to leave every year," Patel said.
Other Documented Dreamers sharing their testimonies included Merry Joseph, a third-year medical student at the University of Utah Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine; Muhil Ravichandran, a graduate of Rutgers University in New Jersey facing the possibility of forced self-deportation and Laurens Van Beek, who self-deported last July after not being selected for the H-1B lottery.
Indian-American Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) and Ami Bera (D-California) are co-sponsors of the legislation in the House of Representatives.
In addition to Padilla, the Senate version of the bill is cosponsored by Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Angus King (I-Maine), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona).
“These Documented Dreamers are Americans in every way except one: their parent’s green card is tied up in red tape,” said Senator Padilla. “This legislation is about more than just immigration reform—it’s about righting a moral wrong that’s a byproduct of our outdated immigration system.”
Padilla said this Bill would prevent young dependents from ‘aging out’ of their parents’ visa when they turn 21, and create additional green card opportunities for them.
“These children who have legally called the United States home for many years and even decades, are contributing members in our communities and to our economy. They shouldn’t be penalised by the government’s failures in addressing green card backlogs,” said Senator Paul.
“Documented Dreamers grow up in our communities, attend our schools, and learn alongside our children,” said Congresswoman Ross. “It’s long past time that we address flaws in our broken immigration system and give Documented Dreamers the chance to stay in the country they love and call home.”