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, bipartisan legislation which will protect documented dreamers, who are dependents of long-term non-immigrant visa holders, from aging out of the system when they turn 21. The lawmakers were joined by a group of documented dreamers who shared their stories and advocated on behalf of the bipartisan bill, last Wednesday.
“We’re a country of immigrants, one generation after another bringing with us our heritage, our culture, our religions, our traditions – all woven together. That is America’s strength, and that is what’s going on with this,” said Congressman Bera. “We must fix this flaw in our immigration system. We should invite these children to be essential to that next generation to continue to move our country forward.”
A group of 40 youth members of Improve The Dream from all over the nation came to the United States Capitol to advocate. Further, develop The Dream is a youth-led organization, founded by Dip Patel, that advocates for children of legal immigrants who have grown up in the United States, yet have no clear path to citizenship because they “age out” of the system at 21. They are often referred to as documented dreamers.
Indian American Congressman supports bipartisan Bill
For the first time, more than 20 youthful immigrants from Improve The Dream visited the White House the week before. They met with senior immigration administrators to examine the issue of aging out and the green card backlog for affected youth. They were able to tell their stories to the executive office and their legislators as well—the congresspersons that represent them. Also, they met senators and representatives from Indiana, Florida, Iowa, and other states through their advocacy.
“Documented dreamers grow up in our communities, go to our schools, and learn alongside our kids. They love our nation and want to give back to the individuals and spots that raised them,” said Congresswoman Ross, at a question and answer session with individuals from The-Dream, held at the Capitol which is the seat of the US House of representatives. “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.”
“Our broken immigration system is neglecting to address America’s issues in the 21st century,” said Senator Padilla. “One major disappointment of the broken immigration system is the lack of protection for documented dreamers. For these youngsters who came legally, 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 remain 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.”
These are youngsters educated in the United States, who grew up in this nation. And are looking forward to a future in this nation, said Senate judiciary committee chair Durbin. “But our immigration system is built on a premise that they are undocumented and undeserving of citizenship status. We need to transform it with this bipartisan bill. We need to tell them thus a lot more like them: we want you to be a part of America’s future. If your choice is to be part of the future of America, we welcome you. We need you.
More than 200,000 kids 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 people grow up in the United States, go to American schools, and graduate from American colleges. 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 authorization that comes with it. Last July, Representatives Ross, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Andy Kim presented 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.