A bipartisan group of senators introduced an immigration bill in September addressing young adults who legally come to the United States as children but face deportation at age 21 when they age out of dependent status.
Under the America’s Children Act, these documented Dreamers would be able to apply for citizenship. The Senate bill is a companion to a similar measure introduced in the House in July.
The legislation would open the door for thousands
Under the proposal, an estimated 200,000 documented immigrants in the U.S. could be eligible for permanent residency. Under the current system, they are covered by their parents’ nonimmigrant status only until they turn 21 when they must either depart the United States (often the only country they’ve known as home) or identify another immigration option (if any) to remain lawfully in the United States.
These individuals are not covered under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which applies only to undocumented immigrants.
The measure is the first of its kind
While it’s not clear whether Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform anytime soon, the America’s Children Act is the first attempt to offer a path to citizenship for documented Dreamers. It’s also one of the few pieces of legislation with widespread bipartisan support.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over immigration legislation. Co-sponsors include committee chairman and Democrat Dick Durban of Illinois, and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
While it’s not known when the House or Senate will take up the legislation, strong support from both parties led to the effort to introduce a standalone bill instead of adding it to a comprehensive immigration package.