Padilla, Paul say protections needed for kids who grew up in U.S. but are too old to remain on parents’ visa.
Sens. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., proposed legislation Wednesday that would put so-called documented Dreamers, or foreign citizens who grew up legally in the U.S. on a parent’s work visa but then aged out, on a path to permanent residency.
A rare bipartisan effort on immigration, the bill would allow more than 200,000 people who came to the U.S. as children and graduated from American universities to apply for a green card. This would spare them from having to leave the country after they turn 21 — the point at which they become too old to remain on their parents’ visas.
“We cannot turn our backs on the ‘Documented Dreamers’ who have spent most of their lives in this country, contributing to their communities and our economy but face continued uncertainty and risk deportation once they turn 21,” Padilla, who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s immigration panel, said in a statement.
In particular, the legislation would help young adults, largely Indian citizens, who turned 21 while their parents were stuck waiting in lengthy green card backlogs caused by strict per-country visa caps the U.S. imposes.
In addition to giving these individuals a chance to apply for a green card on their own, the bill would prevent similar problems in the future by freezing kids’ ages at the time their parents apply for the family’s permanent residency, rather than when the green card actually becomes available.
Paul said in a statement that children who were raised in the U.S. with legal immigration status “shouldn’t be penalized by the government’s failures in addressing green card backlogs.”
“These children who have legally called the United States home for many years and even decades, are contributing members in our communities and to our economy,” he continued.
By Suzanne Monyak for ROLL CALL
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