Saturday, December 9, 2023

Congress pushes new legislation that can grant citizenship to ‘documented DREAMers’

This week, Senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for some children and young adults who were raised in the United States but are at risk of deportation at age 21.

The legislation, called the America’s Children Act, was introduced after the House advanced the text of a sweeping $3.5 trillion spending plan that would also include a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children and are recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

“For too long, young immigrants like us, who have been raised and educated here as Americans, have been forced to leave the country we call home. The introduction of America’s Children Act means so much to thousands of us who have only known America as their home,” said Dip Patel, Founder of Improve the Dream, an organization that advocates for DREAMers.

Under the proposed legislation, at least 200,000 people who have lived in the U.S for at least 10 years on a valid visa and have graduated from a higher education institution would be eligible for permanent residence. The America’s Children Act is the first effort to create a path to citizenship for documented DREAMers that has broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

The Senate bill is co-sponsored by three Democrats who sit on the Judiciary Committee and have jurisdiction over immigration legislation. Democrats hope to pass broad immigration reform including for documented DREAMers, through the $3.5 trillion social policy package, but it’s unclear whether it will ultimately be included.

Patel, 25, a Canadian citizen, has lived in the United States for more than 16 years. His parents came to the United States on E-2 visas, a program that allows small business investors to reside in the United States and opened a grocery store in Southern Illinois. It was not until he was in high school that Mr. Patel realized that his dependent visa would expire when he turned 21, complicating his future. Now, he’s a clinical pharmacist in Illinois and has now been able to stay in the U.S. first on a student visa and now on an employer-sponsored work visa. However, many in his position are not able to find alternative visas and are at risk of deportation.

“In my case and that of many others, it’s almost impossible to do that when you’ve lived in America for basically your whole life. I have confidence that documented DREAMers won’t be ignored anymore. This broad bipartisan support shows that this solution should be included in any efforts at immigration reform,” said Patel.

New York Times