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Representatives Ross, Miller-Meeks, Krishnamoorthi, Kim Introduce Bipartisan America’s CHILDREN Act

July 1, 2021

America’s CHILDREN Act would protect Documented Dreamers from aging out of legal immigration status at 21

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Deborah Ross (NC-02), 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, who are dependents of-long-term nonimmigrant visa holders, from aging out of the system when they turn 21, forcing them to self-deport.

Over 200,000 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.

“My Wake County community is one of many across the country that has flourished because of immigrant workers, who spend years growing our economy and raising their children as Americans,” said Congresswoman Ross. “It is unconscionable that when these children, known as Documented Dreamers, reach the age of 21, they can be forced to self-deport to countries they might not even remember, splitting their families apart. I’m grateful to my colleagues, Rep. Miller-Meeks, Rep. Krishnamoorthi, and Rep. Kim for joining me in working to keep our nation strong and competitive by protecting the dignity to these families and ensuring Documented Dreamers have access to the American Dream.”

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

“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 Congressman 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.”

“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 U.S. Rep. Young Kim (CA-39). “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, legal immigration system that allows immigrant children to achieve their American Dream.” 

Dip Patel, Founder of Improve the Dream said, “Members of Improve The Dream are extremely grateful for the introduction of 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. Over 200,000 Documented Dreamers who had felt hopeless now have hope for being recognized as something we have long felt: Americans. We are America's Children and this bill will recognize us as such. Thank you Congresswoman Deborah Ross for championing this cause. This legislation will improve the dream for all children of long-term visa holders and allow us to fully contribute our skills to this country. We urge Congress to pass America's CHILDREN Act swiftly.”

Neil Makhija, Executive Director at IMPACT, the nation's leading South Asian civic organizations, said, “The America's CHILDREN Act gives hope to 200,000 Documented Dreamers who are American in every sense of the word except for a legal status that is unfair, unjust, and unwise. These are America’s children, and we must give them the path to citizenship that they deserve and that also will serve the country. We thank Reps. Ross, Krishnamoorthi, Miller-Meeks, Kim and Bera for leading the way on this issue and urge Congress to take up and pass this Act.” 

Josselin Castillo, Federal Liaison, Americans for Prosperity said, “We commend Representatives Deborah Ross, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Young Kim for their efforts on the America’s Children Act. This bill would provide a real opportunity for the children of long-term visa holders who have grown up in the U.S. to remain in the country and apply their talents.  For too long, our system has kept out thousands of individuals from contributing to our society when they age out of the green card backlog. This legislation would right that wrong by allowing dependents of long-term visa holders to remain in the country with their families after turning 21.”

Laurence Benenson, Interim Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at the National Immigration Forum said, “The America’s CHILDREN Act would honor family unity and protect immigrant children who have grown up legally in the U.S. These children know only America as their home, and yet many “age out” and face deportation even as their parents remain in the U.S. with legal status. We should not let shortcomings in our immigration system prevent children who grew up here from realizing their full potential as Americans.”

“As a civil rights organization, we are very concerned about any group of people living and working in the U.S. for long periods of time without access to citizenship and full participation in our democracy. Children who were raised and educated in the U.S. deserve Congressional action and a path to citizenship,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “As such, Advancing Justice | AAJC applauds the introduction of the America’s CHILDREN Act, which addresses a group of young people who are victims of our outdated and broken immigration system.”

Background

The 2021 version of the House’s H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, extends retroactive protections to Documented Dreamers; however, the Senate’s DREAM Act does not include this population. The America’s Cultivation of Hope and Inclusion for Long-Term Dependents Raised and Educated Natively (America’s CHILDREN) Act aims to close these gaps by providing a permanent solution for Documented Dreamers. Specifically, the bill:

  • Provides 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;
  • Establishes 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; and
  • Provides work authorization for Documented Dreamers over the age of 16 whose green card applications are pending.

The America’s CHILDREN Act is endorsed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, New American Economy, National Immigration Forum, Americans for Prosperity, Improve the Dream, and IMPACT.

Bill text can be found here.

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