A group of US lawmakers reintroduced a bipartisan legislation to protect children of long-term visa holders, known as documented dreamers, from ageing out when they turn 21, forcing them to self-deport. The legislation aims to freeze of the dreamers who have grown up in the United States until they find a way to change their visa status.
Congresswoman Deborah Ross and Senator Alex Padilla made the announcement during a press conference at Capitol Hill on May 17, 2023, alongside over 40 dreamers.
The reintroduction of the America’s CHILDREN Act, that aims to offer the youngsters a pathway to citizenship, drew strong support from Indian- American Representatives Ami Bera and Raja Krishnamoorthi. They were joined by Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Young Kim and Senator Rand Paul.
Stressing the significance of the bill, Krishnamoorthi said, “Many children of long-term visa holders who have grown up in the United States and embraced the American Dream as their own are forced by the ongoing failures of our immigration system to leave before they can start their careers and write their own American success story.”
“As the proud son of immigrants, I’m honoured to join Representative Ross and Senator Padilla in introducing America’s Children Act to safeguard over 200,000 children at risk of having to self-deport. It’s time that we get this critical legislation across the finish line and signed into law,” Representative Bera said.
Lawmakers emphasized that the immigration system needs to protect those who come to the US legally and support them as they work to contribute to the development of the country.
The proposed bill will protect any child who has been in the United States for an aggregate of eight years before the age of 21 as a dependent of an employment-based non-immigrant by allowing them to remain dependent on their parent’s non-immigrant visa until they can find another status. The bill seeks to establish age-out protections that lock in a child’s age on the date their parents file for a green card and provide work authorization for individuals qualifying for age-out protection.
Welcoming the move, founder of Improve the Dream, Dip Patel said, “Fixing this loophole will ensure that America reaps the benefits of the contributions of the children it raised and educated. Ending ageing-out will empower people to tap into their talents and ambitions, helping us and our country reach our fullest potential.”
In 2021, Representatives Ross, Miller-Meeks, Krishnamoorthi, and Kim first introduced the America’s Children Act in the House. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Padilla and Paul, according to a release.