Even as activists seek a permanent legislative fix, some changes in rules can bring temporary relief to thousands
Seattle based, Harsh H. (name changed on request) came to America as a 6-year-old, when the family emigrated. Harsh spent his entire childhood embracing America as his home firmly believing that as a part of essential American fabric he would get every equal opportunity his peers at school had.
However, with adulthood, came along the uncomfortable truths about the broken immigration system in America and Harsh realized that on his dependent H-4 visa, he is just one date away from facing family separation and leaving the only home country he has known.
Stories like these are neither isolated nor unique, as a growing number of young immigrants face the possible threat of self-deportation as their families languish in decades long line for green card or permanent residency in the United States.
Read: USCIS to keep accepting DACA renewal requests (July 20, 2021)
Harsh says, â€œThanks to the country cap policy for green cards in the US, the majority of youngsters facing deportation after turning 21, are Indians, whose families are awaiting that elusive green card.â€
While a lot is being discussed about mending the immigration system, activists campaigning for documented dreamers maintain that a short-term as well as a long-term solution to their problem remains a real possibility only if the Congress acts on it.
As the Biden administration continues to maintain a positive stance towards fixing immigration problems, the call to include documented Dreamers in the immigration reforms is louder than over.
Dip Patel, founder, Improve the Dream, a youth led advocacy voicing support for dependent children of long-term visa holders in the US suggests administrative changes to provide immediate relief to thousands of documented dreamers.
â€œWe hope that the administration can provide immediate temporary relief through administrative policy changes,â€ he says. â€œFor example the new DACA rule should be updated to remove the requirement that applicants must be undocumented.â€
â€œUSCIS can also freeze a childâ€™s age based on the â€˜dates for filingâ€™ chart instead of the â€˜final action dateâ€™ chart,â€ says Patel. â€œThis would help protect some Documented Dreamers who narrowly age out.â€
Currently there are about 200,000 documented Dreamers who are not currently eligible for protection from deportation under DACA. The DACA criteria limits applicants to those youngsters who did not have a lawful immigration status on June15, 2012.
Read: Google donates $250,000 to cover 500 Dreamersâ€™ DACA applications (January 13, 2021)
The proposed change would allow individuals who had a lawful status in the US at that time to be included in the protection.
California based, Immigration activist Netra Chavan sees the issue as the part of a bigger problem. She says, â€œOvernight policies are formed & announced for many immigrant communities and amended when needed but documented children on valid visas are ignored by government authorities.â€
â€œDecades old employment-based pending green card communities are impacted by per-country caps and thus, lengthy wait times are leading children close to aging out situations.â€
A bicameral letter submitted by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Congresswoman Deborah Ross to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) late last year made a similar suggestion.
â€œIf DACA were updated as we have suggested, Documented Dreamers who were present in the United States on June15, 2012 could be given a chance to remain and continue to contribute to our nation after they reach 21,â€ the lawmakers wrote.
â€œDACA was designed to protect children and young adults who have grown up in the United States from being forced to return to countries they hardly know,â€ it notes. â€œWe urge you to fulfill the promise of this policy by extending DACA eligibility to Documented Dreamers.â€
Highlighting the gravity of this situation which most do not realize, Chavan explains, â€œOne study estimates that certain Indian nationals will have to wait somewhere between 39 and 89 years for a green card if visas continue to be made available at the current rate.â€
â€œCongress needs to address it as an emergency before the country loses out on hundreds of thousands of skilled workers and talented documented children who may contribute to Americaâ€™s growing economy.â€
On the solution, Chavan says, â€œRemoving per-country limits must be a first step, Congress also needs to consider unused green card numbers or increase the number of green cards dramatically to resolve this crisis instead of wasting thousands of green cards this year and jeopardizing aging out children’s lives.â€
Read: Biden admin urged to expand DACA eligibility to documented dreamers (December 01, 2021)
â€œAs per letter from President Joe Biden, he clearly states children are our kite string who help lift national ambitions and if we are already investing in them then why talented educated children who consider America as their home are allowed to self-deport or relocate in some other country for good.â€
â€œI hope the USCIS and US government will fix the broken US immigration system instead of jeopardizing talented lives and careers in this endless wait,â€ Chavan says.