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May 18, 2023 | In The News

A group of lawmakers including Indian American Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ami Bera have reintroduced bipartisan legislation to protect Documented Dreamers – children of-long-term visa holders – from aging out when they turn 21, forcing them to self-deport.

The lawmakers led by Congresswoman Deborah Ross and Senator Alex Padilla, both Democrats, announced the reintroduction of the America’s Chilrden Act, alongside group of 40+ Documented Dreamers at a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Indian American Congressman Ami Bera and a group of Documented Dreamers, who shared their experiences with America’s outdated immigration system, voiced support for the bill.

Over 250,000 children and young adults are living in the United States as dependents of long-term nonimmigrant 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 DACA or the work authorization that comes with it.

According to the bill’s sponsors, the America’s Children Act would:

— Allow individuals to obtain permanent residency if they were brought to the United States as dependent children of workers admitted under employment visas, have maintained status in the United States for 10 years (including eight years as dependents), and have graduated from an institution of higher education;

— 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 nonimmigrant by allowing them to remain a dependent on their parent’s nonimmigrant visa until they can find another status;

— Establish age-out protections that lock in a child’s age on the date on which their parents file for a green card;

— Provide work authorization for individuals qualifying for age-out protection.

In the House, Ross is joined by Krishnamoorthi, both Democrats, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Young Kim, both Republicans in leading the legislation. Senators Alex Padilla and Rand Paul, both Republican, introduced the Senate companion legislation.

“Documented Dreamers grow up in our communities, attend our schools, and learn alongside our children,” said Ross. “These inspiring young people represent the very best of America.”

“It’s long past time that we reform our broken immigration system and give Documented Dreamers the chance to stay in the country they love and call home.”

“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,” said Krishnamoorthi.

“I’m proud to partner with my colleagues from both parties on this legislation to provide a pathway for these young people to continue to contribute to our nation while building their lives here.”

“Communities like Sacramento County are home to H-1B and other long-term visa holders who greatly contribute as neighbors, friends, educators, scientists, and doctors,” said Bera.

“However, more than 200,000 children of nonimmigrant visa holders, who consider America their only home, face the unsettling prospect of ‘self deportation’ and family separation due to decades-long backlogs in the immigrant visa system,” he said.

“These young people are part of the fabric of our country, contributing to our economy and enriching our communities,” Bera said.

“It’s our moral duty to provide these young individuals with a pathway to permanent residency and a future free from the threat of having to leave the only country they know and love because of a broken immigration system.

“As the proud son of immigrants, I’m honored to join Representative Ross and Senator Padilla in introducing the 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.”

“We are grateful for Representatives Ross, Miller-Meeks, Senator Padilla and Senator Paul for championing and reintroducing America’s Children Act,” said Dip Patel, founder of Improve the Dream. “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, helping us and our country reach our fullest potential,” he said. “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.“

In 2022, the US House of Representatives passed a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) led by Congresswomen Deborah Ross that included age-out protections for dependent children on green card applications as well as nonimmigrant dependent children.

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.

The American Bazaar

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