Incoming Biden administration gave them hope, but a year later activists lament that not much has been done since
For most Indians living on a work visa in the United States, the idea to make America their permanent home is one fraught with many challenges.
Besides the green card backlog community and tens of thousands of dependents on work permit losing jobs due to delayed processing times, there is also a growing population of youngsters living under the constant reality of facing self-deportation once they turn adults.
The legal dreamers have been pinning their hopes on the Biden administrationâ€™s promises for the immigrant community, but as Biden completes one year in office on Jan 20, most maintain that not much has been done for them in the past year.
Read: Did Biden fail to live up to his promise to immigrant communities? (December 24, 2021)
Dip Patel, a pharmacist and immigration advocate has founded, Improve The Dream, a youth-led organization that advocates for legal dreamers.
â€œOver the past 4 years, we have built a community to raise awareness for the struggles of documented dreamers and educating the Congress and the public about our issue,â€ he says.
Children of long-term visa holders who grow up in the United States with a documented status, face self-deportation after aging out. Most of these children confronted with self-deportation are Indian H-4 visa holders whose parents are in a long line for green card.
A lot happened after the Biden administration took over, that gave legal dreamers hopes for a more stable future ahead. In 2021, for the first time, documented dreamers were included in the Dream and Promise Act, the premier bill to protect Dreamers.
Improve the Dream advocates were also able to work with members of Congress to help introduce Americaâ€™s Children Act, the first bill to permanently end aging out.
On why the legal dreamer community is feeling not much has been done for them even after Biden took over, Patel says, â€œThe Biden administration has not taken the significant action that we are hoping for.â€
â€œWe appreciate the administration for listening to our stories and considering action but there are certain administrative policy changes that are possible but have not been implemented.â€
In June, last year, House members Deborah Ross and Ami Bera led a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recommending DHS strengthen protection for documented dreamers.
It suggested updating DACA criteria to include documented dreamers and adjusting the way USCIS determines an individualâ€™s age when they file for adjustment of status.
In November, Sen Alex Padilla and Rep Ross led House and Senate members in submitting a letter requesting DHS to expand DACA threshold criteria to include Documented Dreamers.
â€œThe current plans are to continue advocating for both administrative and legislative changes,â€ says Patel. â€œWe hope that the administration can provide immediate temporary relief through administrative policy changes.â€
â€œFor example, the new DACA rule should be updated to remove the requirement that applicants must be undocumented,” he says. “This is the least that can happen until Congress passes a permanent fix to aging out, including per country caps to address the green card backlog.â€