Wed. Aug 17th, 2022
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MUMBAI: A bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will protect more than 2 lakh documented (also known as legal) dreamers.
Documented dreamers are those individuals who were brought to the US when they were kids. Their parents entered the US legally on non-immigrant visas such as the H-1B. When these children age out (turn 21), they can no longer continue with their H-4 dependent visas and have to transition to an international student visa or self-deport to their home country.
The huge backlog for employment-based green cards, which runs into several decades for Indians means that the Indian diaspora is adversely impacted and many families are torn apart.
This amendment proposed by Congresswoman Deborah Ross and co-sponsored by Mariannette Miller-Meeks seeks to protect children who face deportation when they age out, by fixing gaps in the immigration system and by addressing serious flaws in the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).
The child’s age will be frozen based on when a parent’s first employment-based green card application was initiated. It will protect young adults who have been in the US as dependent children for at least eight years by allowing them to remain dependents on their parent’s employment-based non-immigrant visa after age 21 until a visa number for their parent’s green card becomes available or until they are able to obtain another status. It also seeks to provide employment authorization to those children covered by age out protections.
These amendments are similar to the America’s Children Act, but immigration experts are of the view that the amendment has a better chance of passage than stand-alone bills.
According to an earlier study done by David Bier, a research fellow at Cato Institute, as of April 2020, 1.36 lakh children from Indian families were caught in the EB2 and EB3 employment based green card category backlog, which had an estimated wait time of 84 years. Bier had pointed out that 62% of such children would age out without getting a green card.

Voices on the amendment:

“Documented Dreamers represent the very best of America and contribute in significant ways to our national security,” said Congresswoman Ross. “…I am incredibly proud that this amendment has passed the House, and I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to get it across the finish line,” she added.
“I am proud to see the House pass this bipartisan measure to protect young dependents of long-term visa holders who have grown up in the US and have come here legally,” said Congresswoman Miller-Meeks. “These dependents, including some of my constituents, come here legally as young children. They grow up in the US, study here, and call this place home. Unfortunately, due to a broken immigration system and a decades long backlog, many of them are forced to leave. When these individuals are forced to leave, it is a loss to America’s communities and employers. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to pass this provision into law and support legal immigration.”
“Today’s bipartisan passage of Congresswomen Deborah Ross and Miller-Meeks’ provision to permanently end aging out is the most significant milestone yet for our movement,” said Dip Patel, Founder of Improve the Dream.
“…We urge the Senate to include this provision in the final bill. Delay in taking action will not only lead to tearing more families apart, but also continue to hurt American communities. Passage of this provision reaffirms that America welcomes those who are drawn toward its ideals, and that by empowering people to tap into their talents and ambitions, the American dream grows more attainable for everybody,” added Patel.

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