Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) and Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) led 49 House and Senate Members in submitting a bicameral comment letter requesting that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expand the DACA threshold criteria to include Documented Dreamers. As the children of long-term visa holders, Documented Dreamers grow up with legal status in the United States, but age out of the system at 21 when their dependent visas expire if they have not been granted a green card by that time. The lawmakers are urging DHS to extend eligibility to the 200,000 Documented Dreamers who are not currently eligible for protection from deportation under DACA.

The letter read in part: “If DACA were updated as we have suggested, Documented Dreamers who were present in the United States on June 15, 2012 could be given the chance to remain and continue to contribute to our nation after they reach age 21. DACA was designed to protect children and young adults who have grown up in the United States from being forced to return to countries they hardly know. We urge you to fulfill the promise of this policy by extending DACA eligibility to Documented Dreamers.”

DACA threshold criteria currently limits applicants to those who “had no lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012.” The Members’ proposed change would remove this criteria and allow individuals who had lawful status in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, but subsequently lost such status by the time of their request, to qualify for DACA.

The letter also encourages two additional changes to DACA eligibility: removing the threshold criteria that require requestors to have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the time of filing the request and adjusting the dates in the threshold criteria to provide relief for individuals who arrived in the U.S. after 2007.

In June, Representatives Ross, Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), and Young Kim (CA-39) introduced America’s CHILDREN Act, bipartisan legislation to protect Documented Dreamers from aging out of the system when they turn 21, forcing them to self-deport. Senator Padilla and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led the bipartisan bill in the Senate. Congresswoman Ross also led 22 of her House colleagues in urging Congressional leadership to include a permanent path to residency for Documented Dreamers in the Build Back Better Act.

Full text of the letter is available here.