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At Long Last There Appears a Path Ahead for American Documented Dreamers

At Long Last There Appears a Path Ahead for American Documented Dreamers

  • For thousands of Indian children on H-4 dependent visas, who are at risk of aging out, the American Dream and Promise Act could provide a lifeline to their American Dream.

A long-standing cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy is the principle of family unity. Yet, the families of high-skilled immigrants entering the country on H1-B or E-2 face a constant uncertainty of whether or not their children would be able to continue living with them in the U.S. after they age out at 21.

It was not supposed to be like this. It was expected that the children also known as documented Dreamers would be covered by their parents’ Green Card. But with the Green Card backlog problem spinning out of control in the last decade, many of their futures are being thrown into jeopardy.

A 2019 survey of individuals waiting in this backlog showed that 32% were seriously considering returning to the country of their origin while an astonishing 70% were considering moving to a more welcoming country. They are tired of waiting.

It doesn’t help that there are more than 200,000 children stuck in the employment-based green card backlog, a majority of which are of Indian origin. At least 100,000 children or documented Dreamers are at risk of aging out of their status over the next two decades.

Aging out has forced thousands of documented Dreamers to leave the country they grew up in or find a series of temporary statuses like F-1 (the international student visa). To work after they graduate, they have to enter the H1-B lottery. If they get lucky and win it, their employer needs to sponsor them for a green card and so they enter the green card queue behind everyone else – despite already waiting years as dependents on their parents’ application.

Fortunately, this year a spate of legislation is underway to tackle their plight.

First, on July 1st, 2021, the bipartisan legislation, America’s CHILDREN (Cultivation of Hope and Inclusion for Long-term Dependents Raised and Educated Natively) Act was introduced in Congress. The legislation permanently ends aging out and for the first time, provides the child dependents of long-time visa holders to gain a pathway to obtaining Green Cards.
Second, the EAGLE Act (HR 3648) has been introduced in the House in June of this year. It is an updated version of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044), bipartisan legislation that passed both the House and the Senate last year and almost became law. It would eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based green cards and fix the backlog problem.

Third, on July 16 a Federal Court ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program unlawful. The program has shielded hundreds of thousands of undocumented young adults also known as Dreamers from deportation. With it gone, Congress faces the urgency of passing the Dream and Promise Act. The bipartisan American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), passed by the House earlier this year, includes a pathway to permanent status and citizenship for documented dreamers. So, there is hope that the Senate will also pass a bill that will be inclusive of them.

Dip Patel, the founder of ‘Improve The Dream,’ an advocacy organization for documented Dreamers, is hopeful. He thinks the latest turn in events with the Federal Court ruling “increases urgency a lot to pass a bill for all Dreamers.” Through ‘Improve the Dream,’ he continues to talk to Senators to convince them to include the documented Dreamers in the Dream and Promise Act. He said, “I am confident we can succeed to include the best language possible for us.”

See Also

The inability to reach a consensus on immigration reform in the U.S. over the last 15 years has hurt immigrants who have had to endure an immigration system that is not in sync with the times and their needs. The country has been in the grip of a sharp debate that has turned immigration policy into a political landmine. So, overhauling the broken immigration system entirely has become a long-drawn affair. That’s why it has become a necessity to bring about multiple legislations with a narrow focus on fixing some acute problems to resolve the immediate nerve-wracking barriers of documented Dreamers.

I encourage people who are aging out or already have aged out to join ‘Improve The Dream’ network and connect with others in similar state.

(Top photo, members of ‘Improve The Dream,’ an advocacy organization for documented Dreamers, visited Washington, D.C in June to lobby members of Congress. Courtesy, Improve The Dream Facebook.)

Sreya Sarkar is a public policy analyst based out of Boston, who has previously worked as a poverty alleviation specialist in U.S. think tanks. She is a keen observer of Indian politics and presently, writes non-fiction articles and op-eds for Indian policy blogs and magazines.

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