Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Young Kim (CA-39), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) introduced the America’s Cultivation of Hope and Inclusion for Long-Term Dependents Raised and Educated Natively (CHILDREN) Act on July 1st, 2021. This bipartisan legislation protects Documented Dreamers, who are dependents of long-term non-immigrant visa holders, from aging out of the system when they turn 21, forcing them to self-deport.
“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. When I met with University of Iowa student Pareen Mhatre, we discussed the importance of having young people like her in this country,” said Miller-Meeks. “Our America’s CHILDREN Act would protect individuals who are the children of long-term non-immigrant visa holders from aging out of the visa system at the age of 21. These students grew up here, attended school here, and want to continue to make our country a better place. I am proud to support them.”
“Documented dreamers, or children of long-term immigrant workers, came to our nation legally as children and have made positive contributions to our country. Unfortunately, their legal status is in limbo because at age 21 they must self-deport, despite only knowing this country as their home,” said Kim.
“The children of long-term visa holders have grown up in the United States, embracing the American Dream as their own, but the current failures of our immigration system forces them to leave before they have the chance to start their own careers and families here,” said Krishnamoorthi. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to provide a pathway for these young people to continue contributing to our nation while building their own American success stories.”
“Members of Improve The Dream are extremely grateful for the introduction of the America’s CHILDREN Act. For the first time, we have legislation which will permanently end aging out and provide a mechanism for a pathway to citizenship for every child who grows up in the United States with a documented status. 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,” said Dip Patel, Founder of Improve the Dream.
Over 200,000 children and young adults are living in the United States as dependents of long-term non-immigrant 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.
The America’s CHILDREN Act aims to close gaps in the immigration system by providing a permanent solution for Documented Dreamers. Specifically, the bill would provide a pathway to permanent residency for individuals who were brought to the United States as dependent children of workers admitted under approved employer petitions, have maintained status in the United States for 10 years (including four years as a dependent), and have graduated from an institution of higher education.
This bill would also establish age-out protections that lock in a child’s age on the date on which they file for a green card rather than the final action date. Finally, the legislation would provide work authorization for Documented Dreamers over the age of 16 whose green card applications are pending.