Bipartisan bill to give ‘Documented Dreamers’ path to citizenship blocked by Senate parliamentarian

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A proposed bipartisan bill aimed at giving so-called “Documented Dreamers” a path to permanent residency hit a roadblock on Sunday after Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled against including immigration reforms in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion, 10-year spending plan.

Rare bipartisan support: Last week, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., unveiled the "America's Children Act" legislation that aims to grant children of long-term visa holders a means to apply for their own green card, the New York Times reported.

  • Under the bill, “Documented Dreamers” are defined as those who came to the U.S. as children and grew up legally on a parent’s work visa. Many of them face deportation when they reach age 21 as they become too old to stay on dependent status without a green card.

  • Those who are eligible for green cards as children often get caught in the application backlog and eventually get removed from the queue before they reach 21 years old.

  • According to the official press release, the bill would create "a pathway to permanent residency for individuals who were brought to the United States as dependent children of workers admitted under approved employer petitions, have maintained status in the United States for 10 years (including four years as a dependent) and have graduated from an institution of higher education."

  • The bill also prescribed to freeze the children’s ages at the time their parents apply for the family’s permanent residency instead of the availability date of the green card to prevent potential future problems.

  • Those who grew up as derivative family members of high-skilled work U.S. visa holders and who do not have a path to a green card will also benefit from the bill.

  • Democrats were hoping to pass the Documented Dreamers Act along with other immigration reforms through the $3.5 trillion social policy package they passed in August.




 

A chance for all: Improve the Dream, an organization that advocates for Documented Dreamers, celebrated the introduction of the bill on Tuesday.

  • “For too long, young immigrants like us, who have been raised and educated here as Americans, have been forced to leave the country we call home,” Improve the Dream founder Dip Patel said. “The introduction of America’s Children Act means so much to thousands of us who have only known America as their home.”

  • If passed, the legislation would help over 200,000 Documented Dreamers who “have been waiting for years, and often decades for a green card.”

  • Padilla, who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s immigration panel, said, “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.”

  • Paul said that such individuals “shouldn’t be penalized by the government’s failures in addressing green card backlogs.”


Not in this budget: Citing Senate rules, MacDonough argued that provisions are not allowed in such bills if their effect on the budget is “merely incidental” to their overall policy impact, reported the Associated Press.

  • In her ruling, MacDonough said, "The reasons that people risk their lives to come to this country — to escape religious and political persecution, famine, war, unspeakable violence and lack of opportunity in their home countries — cannot be measured in federal dollars.”

  • Padilla and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a joint statement expressing disappointment in MacDonough’s decision but said they “have prepared an alternative proposal for the Parliamentarian's consideration in the coming days."


Featured Image via ImproveTheDream

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