RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – “I’ve been in this country for 21 years and just the thought of that is making me a little emotional but it’s not just me there are so many others who have been waiting for their green cards for so long and this bill would grant us that right,” said Documented Dreamer Pareem Mhatre.
The bill she referred to is the American Children’s Act.
The bi-partisan legislation would protect Documented Dreamers by giving them a path to citizenship.
Children of long-term nonimmigrant visa holders age out of the system when they turn 21, forcing them to self-deport.
More than 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.
The 2021 version of the American Dream and Promise Act, extends retroactive protections to Documented Dreamers. But, the Senate’s DREAM Act does not include this group of people.
“The thought of being forced to go back to a country where I wasn’t familiar with the culture and the way of life terrified me. It has given so many Documented Dreamers hope of a future in America without the constant hurtles we faced growing up to finally get a path to a green card and finally take away the uncertainty many of us have had to face growing up” said Wake County resident Maria Theresa Louis.
Currently 18 years old, she was four when arriving in the U.S. from India with her parents.
The Triangle’s Asian and Indian population is among the fastest-growing, according to the bill’s primary sponsor Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-02).
“This issue has been persistent but it gets even greater as we attract even more companies from all around the world as we expand our bio-medical research,” Ross said.
Adding to that are tech companies like Google and Apple and some of the top universities in the world.
The America’s Children Act potentially has enough support to make it through the House.
The Senate is expected to be a tougher sell.
“Since the immigration system currently has no mechanism in place to protect documented dreamers like us we are aging out everyday and face self deporation from the place we call home. For too long these obstacles have not only torn families apart and caused emotional turmoil but they have also hurt America’s economy by depriving it of children who were raised and educated by it” said Dip Patel with Improve the Dream.
Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) and Young Kim (CA-39) are co-sponsors of the proposed legislation.
CBS 17 reached out to both North Carolina Republican Sens. Thom Tillis and Senator Richard Burr for comment. As of this publication, they have not responded.