Lawmakers reintroduce America’s CHILDREN Act to protect Documented Dreamers

Congresswoman Deborah Ross and Congressman Ami Bera along with Documented Dreamers while reintroducing America’s CHILDREN Act, on May 17, 2023, on Capitol Hill, in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Washington DC: Amid increasing bipartisan support in the United States Congress, over 40 Documented Dreamers from across the country joined lawmakers on Capitol Hill on May 17, 2023, to reintroduce the America’s CHILDREN Act, a bipartisan legislation designed to safeguard children of long-term legal visa holders. The Act seeks to prevent these children from aging out once they reach the age of 21 and stop them from self-deportation.

The America’s CHILDREN Act proposes several provisions. It would enable individuals who arrived in the United States as dependent children of workers with employment visas to obtain permanent residency. To be eligible, these individuals must have maintained their status in the country for 10 years, with at least eight of those years spent as dependents. Additionally, they must have completed their education at a higher education institution.

Congresswoman Deborah Ross at the press conference while reintroducing America’s CHILDREN Act, on May 17, 2023, on Capitol Hill, in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

The Act aims to safeguard any child who has lived in the United States for a total of eight years before turning 21 as a dependent of a nonimmigrant worker. This protection would allow them to remain under their parent’s nonimmigrant visa until they can secure another immigration status. Furthermore, the Act establishes age-out protections that fix a child’s age at the time their parents file for a green card, preventing them from aging out of the system. Lastly, the Act includes provisions for granting work authorization to individuals who qualify for age-out protection.

At a press conference, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (D-NC), Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) announced that they were re-introducing the bipartisan and bicameral legislation.

Congressman Ami Bera at the press conference while reintroducing America’s CHILDREN Act, on May 17, 2023, on Capitol Hill, in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

When questioned about the reasoning for reintroducing, Ross told News India Times, “We’re reintroducing it in a slightly different form. Because we learned from the negotiations and the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] that there were certain things that the Senate was going to be more amenable to, and we’ve included all Documented Dreamers and drafts. So, we really feel like we’ve come to a place where there is a lot of consensus – and it’s bipartisan.”

“We’re cautiously optimistic that with these additional Republicans on the House side, and the Senators really pushing for it – that we can get something through this time,” Ross added.

In her remarks, Ross asserted, “The America’s CHILDREN Act will permanently end aging out and provide a pathway to permanent residency for the children of long-term visa holders in the United States. Last Congress we almost got protection for the Documented Dreamers over the finish line, passing provisions out of the House in the NDAA and the American Dream and Promise Act.” She noted that the legislation will greatly improve the lives of Documented Dreamers.

Calling it an “Outdated immigration system” and “Broken law” Padilla said, “By forcing Documented Dreamers to self deport, we’re actually hurting our national interest. These Documented Dreamers are overwhelmingly graduates in STEM fields and we have a shortage in the STEM workforce. Put them in a position of taking their education, their training, their talents, to countries and to companies abroad…”

“The reason why I am standing with them is their story is my story” said Bera. “Let’s come together as Democrats and Republicans, let’s build on the foundation of who we are as a nation. We are a nation of immigrants. Let’s embrace that. That’s what makes America great. And let’s fix this.”

Referring to the reintroduction of this legislation as “just common sense” Bera told News India Times, “This is a bipartisan legislation. I’m glad to be able to do this with Congresswoman Ross but also my home State Senator Alex Padilla. We recognize a lot of these kids are Indian-American kids, South Asian kids, so we got to get this done this Congress. We’ve got Senate champions and House champions. So again, if we’re going to do anything in immigration, this should be the one piece that’s easy.”

Founder of Improve the Dream, Dip Patel said, “We are grateful for Representatives Ross, Miller-Meeks, Senator Padilla, and Senator Paul for championing and reintroducing America’s CHILDREN Act. Fixing this loophole will ensure that America reaps the benefits of the contributions of the children it raised and educated.”

Documented Dreamers, Laurens Van Beek, a software engineer, from Iowa City, Merry Joseph, a medical student, from Draper, Utah, and Muhil Ravichandran, a PharmD graduate, from Bridgewater, New Jersey, shared their personal stories and appealed to Congress to pass the legislation on behalf of the 250,000 fellow dreamers in the country.

America’s CHILDREN Act was first introduced in the House in 2021 by Representatives Ross, Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and Young Kim (R-CA). A companion legislation was introduced by Senators Padilla and Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate.

“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 in a statement.

“We must ensure that our immigration system protects those who come here legally and supports them as they work to contribute to and improve our country” said Miller-Meeks.

Kim said, “As an immigrant who came here legally, I am committed to creating a fair, humane, and compassionate legal immigration system that allows immigrant children to achieve their American Dream.”



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