Members reintroduce legislation alongside group of 40+ Documented Dreamers at a press conference on Capitol Hill

Today, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (D-N.C.) and Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced the reintroduction of the America’s CHILRDEN Act, bipartisan legislation to protect Documented Dreamers – children of-long-term visa holders – from aging out of the system when they turn 21, forcing them to self-deport. The lawmakers announced the legislation at a press conference with Congressman Ami Bera (D-Calif.) and a group of Documented Dreamers, who shared their experiences with America’s outdated immigration system and voiced support for the bill. In the House, Congresswoman Ross is joined by Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), and Young Kim (R-Calif) in leading the legislation. Senators Alex Padilla and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced the Senate companion legislation.

Click here for a recording of the press conference and here for photos.

“Documented Dreamers grow up in our communities, attend our schools, and learn alongside our children,” said Congresswoman Ross. “These inspiring young people represent the very best of America. It’s long past time that we reform our broken immigration system and give Documented Dreamers the chance to stay in the country they love and call home. That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle in introducing legislation to finally give them the future they deserve.”

“These Documented Dreamers are Americans in every way except one: their parent’s green card is tied up in red tape,” said Senator Padilla. “This legislation is about more than just immigration reform—it’s about righting a moral wrong that’s a byproduct of our outdated immigration system. My bill would prevent these young people from ‘aging out’ of their parents’ visa when they turn 21, and create additional green card opportunities for Documented Dreamers. I urge my colleagues to stand up and do the right thing for these hundreds of thousands of young people.”

“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 Congresswoman 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, are our friends and neighbors, and want to continue to make our country a better place. I am proud to support them.”

“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 Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “I’m proud to partner with my colleagues from both parties on this legislation to provide a pathway for these young people to continue to contribute to our nation while building their lives here.”

“Documented dreamers came to our nation legally as children and have made positive contributions to our country. The United States is the only country they have known as their home, but they must self-deport at age 21 when their legal status becomes in jeopardy,” said Congresswoman Kim. “I am proud to introduce the bipartisan America’s CHILDREN Act with Reps. Ross, Miller-Meeks and Krishnamoorthi to support these individuals making our nation a better place. 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.” 

“Communities like Sacramento County are home to H-1B and other long-term visa holders who greatly contribute as neighbors, friends, educators, scientists, and doctors,” said Representative Ami Bera, M.D. “However, more than 200,000 children of nonimmigrant visa holders, who consider America their only home, face the unsettling prospect of ‘self deportation’ and family separation due to decades-long backlogs in the immigrant visa system. These young people are part of the fabric of our country, contributing to our economy and enriching our communities. It’s our moral duty to provide these young individuals with a pathway to permanent residency and a future free from the threat of having to leave the only country they know and love because of a broken immigration system. As the proud son of immigrants, I’m honored to join Representative Ross and Senator Padilla in introducing the America’s CHILDREN Act to safeguard over 200,000 children at risk of having to self-deport. It’s time that we get this critical legislation across the finish line and signed into law.”

“We are grateful for Representatives Ross, Miller-Meeks, Senator Padilla and Senator Paul for championing and reintroducing America’s Children Act,” said Dip Patel, founder of Improve the Dream. “Fixing this loophole will ensure that America reaps the benefits of the contributions of the children it raised and educated. Ending aging-out will empower people to tap into their talents and ambitions, helping us and our country reach our fullest potential. And that won’t be possible if we continue to waste the product of our country’s investments, by forcing thousands of American-raised and educated children to leave every year.“

Over 250,000 children and young adults are living in the United States as dependents of long-term nonimmigrant 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 would:

  • Allow individuals to obtain permanent residency if they were brought to the United States as dependent children of workers admitted under employment visas, have maintained status in the United States for 10 years (including eight years as dependents), and have graduated from an institution of higher education;
  • Protect any child who has been in the United States for an aggregate of eight years before the age of 21 as a dependent of an employment-based nonimmigrant by allowing them to remain a dependent on their parent’s nonimmigrant visa until they can find another status;
  • Establish age-out protections that lock in a child’s age on the date on which their parents file for a green card;
  • Provide work authorization for individuals qualifying for age-out protection.

Bill text is available here. A one-pager is available here.

Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Young Kim (R-Calif.), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), John Duarte (R-Calif.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Valerie Foushee (D-N.C.) are all original cosponsors of the America’s CHILDREN Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).

In 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) led by Congresswomen Deborah Ross that included age-out protections for dependent children on green card applications as well as nonimmigrant dependent children.

In 2021, Representatives Ross, Miller-Meeks, Krishnamoorthi, and Kim first introduced the America’s CHILDREN Act in the House. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Padilla and Paul.