DALCA – Paul Ryan’s reforms should include new rule for children of legal immigrants

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NEW YORK – There is a glimmer of hope, or huge disappointment waiting in store this month for legal immigrants waiting in line for a Green Card, whose children might turn 21 before the permanent residency card arrives in the mail.

Those children, who have legal status as dependents, in the scenario that they turn 21 years of age, and their parents still don’t have a Green Card, face the risk of deportation to the country of their origin. Or, struggle to maintain status legally, either through hard-to-get H-1B visa or a student F-1 visa.

Most who read this will think the archaic rule is absurd. It doesn’t serve any purpose except to sow instability in the lives of skilled, law abiding immigrants, who have strived hard to be successful in the country they adopted as home.

It’s a nonsensical and weird rule by the Department of Homeland Security, which has in the past torn several families apart, or forced them to move back to India, Canada, or elsewhere.

Over the years, as the Green Line pipeline clogged up, many abiding families waiting for permanent residency capitulated to this rule, were forced to give up on America with bitter sadness, left the country they called home, spent the better part of their lives in.

Those families didn’t have the heart to let their adult son or daughter be deported to a country they would feel alienated in. For them, family was more important than a Green Card.

Now, slim hope for these legal residents in trepidation of being torn asunder as a family, comes in the form of the Republican leadership in the US House of Representatives eager to take up immigration reforms this month to tackle the thorny issue of ‘Dreamers’.

Dreamers are illegal immigrants who were brought to the US as children, and then grew up here, but don’t have legal papers to get a Green Card. The Republicans, or at least the moderates in their ranks, want to try clear a path for them to get permanent residency. There is opposition from conservatives within the ranks, but with the mid-term elections fast approaching, Speaker Paul Ryan wants to leave his own legacy in place, before he quits for new horizons.

The fact of the matter is that a lot of these legal children – who number around 200,000 -facing deportation, and Dreamers – who are around 700,000, and who too face the scythe of being cut off from the only country they know as home, probably grew up together in classrooms and schools across the country. Many attended the same universities, some even work across the aisle in offices.

The hope for these 200,000 children of legal immigrants is that Ryan and other Republicans club together their issue also with the more vexatious issue of Dreamers, which has bipartisan support, but may fall apart if Trump thinks his base support may frown upon his approval for it.

The Dreamers have been spared deportation due to the generosity of President Barack Obama, who initiated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). That, however, is up in the air, after Trump moved last year to rescind it.

Whatever may be the fate of Dreamers, there is growing support for the cause of the children of legal immigrants too, to be allowed to stay on in America even if they turn 21, if their parent(s) are waiting for a Green Card.

Some powerful Senators and Republicans have been apprised of their condition, raised their voice and support for the cause, which some refer to as Deferred Action for Legal Childhood Arrivals (DALCA).

The Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is one of the more ardent supporters of DALCA. A video of his giving support for DALCA was widely circulated on social media.

He said of the situation: “Those children who came in legally through no fault of anyone will suddenly be faced with the choice of remaining illegally in the United States or leaving the only country they have even known as home … a group that includes some of the most talented young students in America’s schools today.”

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich also weighed in upon the issue: “As lawmakers work on this solution, they must keep in mind how senseless, unfair, and hypocritical it would be to provide a fix for DACA Dreamers – who came here illegally – and neglect to provide a solution for the DALCA Dreamers who have followed the rules and are being victimized by our backlogged, broken system.”

Vikram Aditya Kumar, an Indian American businessman and Trump supporter, writing in RealClear Politics, this week, batting for the DALCA children, pointed out: “The young people who are losing their legal status are no different than my siblings and I were. DALCA kids have been raised on Dorito’s, PlayStation and Coke just like we were and now they’re being forced to leave — which benefits “Silicon Vancouver” and beyond. Each high-skilled worker who is forced to move is a loss for the U.S. and our future as a competitive tech country. Nearly a dozen Indian families in my friend circle alone have shipped off to Vancouver.”

The issue of DALCA is of critical importance for skilled immigrants, including doctors and engineers, in the US, who plan to settle down for good. With current wait time for a Green Card showing estimated time to be as much as 90 years, many families would consider whether to stay in America or not. Who would want to call it quits in a hurry when their son or daughter is forced to self-deport?

Indian families, unfortunately, face the brunt of this agony.

New statistics released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services reveal that as of May 2018, there were 395,025 foreign nationals waiting for Green Card under the employment-based preference category. Of these, 306,601 were Indians, or roughly 75%. China was next with 67,031 waiting in line.

It’s apparent that many of these Indian immigrants in line will have to face a huge dilemma when their ‘child’ is forced to leave the country.

The US government should do the right thing. Either President Trump should sign an executive order to protect these DALCA children, or the proposed immigration reforms this month initiated by Speaker Ryan should also take up the cause of DALCA.

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: sujeet@newsindiatimes.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)