WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — Right now, people known as “Documented Dreamers” are living in limbo, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to change that.
On Wednesday, lawmakers and advocates talked about their new push to protect Documented Dreamers and allow them to permanently stay in the United States.
“Documented Dreamers” are people whose parents brought them to the U.S. legally, but when they turn 21 they lose the protections of their parent’s long-term visa. That forces them to stay illegally or self-deport if they can’t find other ways to get legal status.
Muhil Ravichandran is one of the 250,000 documented dreamers living in the U.S.
“It is heartbreaking that I have to spend every day in fear that I have to leave my home,” Ravichandran said.
Both Ravichandran and fellow dreamer Merry Joseph were part of a group that joined lawmakers to advocate for legislative changes.
“All we ask is for this country to finally recognize us,” Joseph said.
Lawmakers tried to pass a bill to protect Documented Dreamers last session, but failed. Now Congresswoman Deborah Ross and Senator Alex Padilla are re-introducing the legislation, called the “America’s Children Act.”
The bill would give Documented Dreamers a pathway to permanent residency if they are legally in the U.S. for 10 years and graduate from an American university.
“Let’s give them a chance to stay in the country they love and call home,” Ross said.
Ross said support for the legislation is growing, noting that it has co-sponsors from both parties in the House and the Senate.
“Because this has so much bipartisan support, I’m confident that any package that does pass will include it,” Ross said.
But some lawmakers, like Senator J.D. Vance aren’t ready to support it.
“We have to solve the threshold problem, fix the massive, massive flood of illegal aliens. And then we can go on and figure out what to do with our immigration system more broadly,” Vance said.
Still, Senator Padilla says he’s trying to bring more of his colleagues on board to get the bill over the finish line.
“It would finally protect their dreams, it would finally correct the conscience of our country,” Padilla said.