Improve The Dream, founded in 2017, is a youth-led organization that supports, empowers, and advocates for young immigrants, who have grown up in the United States as child dependents of visa holders, through engagement, education, resources, and research. Due to various issues in the immigration system, we don't have a clear path to citizenship. According to Improve The Dream's survey of affected individuals, we were brought to the United States at an average age of 5 and have been here for an average of over 12 years. More than 99% of us pursue higher education and 87% are pursuing STEM and health care fields. We are advocating for change that permanently ends "aging-out" and provides a path to citizenship for every child who grows up in the United States, regardless of status.
Vision: Everyone who grows up in the United States has a clear opportunity to become an American citizen, pursue their passions, and fully contribute to our country.
Mission: We strive to connect and strengthen a national community of young people to improve the journey in navigating the immigration system for themselves and their families, while advocating for a permanent end to aging-out policies.
What actions can Congress take to protect documented Dreamers?1. Pass America's Children Act (HR. 4331 and S. 2753). America's Children Act provides a pathway to permanent residency for individuals who were brought to the United States as child dependents of long-term visa holders, have maintained status in the United States for 10 years, and have graduated from an institution of higher education. It also establishes age-out protections that lock in a child’s age on the date on which they file for a green card rather than the final action date. It provides work authorization for children of long-term visa holders whose green card applications are pending, if they are at least 16 years old. Finally, it allows children who have aged out to retain original priority date for subsequent petitions. Visit AmericasChildrenAct.com to learn more. 2. Include Documented Dreamers in all future efforts to protect Dreamers. 3. Fix the root causes that lead to Documented Dreamers existing. This includes fixing the decades-long green card backlog and fixing gaps in the system that prevent long-term documented residents from obtaining citizenship.
Why are documented Dreamers not protected by DACA?The main requirements for DACA include the following: 1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; 2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday; 3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; 4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS; 5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012 While many documented Dreamers meet the age and residence requirements, they cannot qualify for the protection or work authorization that comes with DACA as they do not meet requirement #5, which required one to have no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
What actions can the Biden administration take to protect documented Dreamers?Multiple congressional letters have been sent to the administration regarding policy changes that may be possible for Documented Dreamers: See Senator Alex Padilla and Rep. Deborah Ross letter cosigned by 51 Members of Congress. See Rep. Deborah Ross and Rep. Bera letter cosigned by 36 Members of Congress See Improve The Dream's Letter to USCIS regarding administrative action. 1. Include documented Dreamers in all future administrative and legislative efforts to protect Dreamers. 2. For future DACA programs, remove the current requirement for applicants to have "no status" on the date of announcement of the program, so documented Dreamers who age out can be protected if no other path exists for them to stay. 3. Direct USCIS to create a parole-in-place program through a policy memorandum to protect children of long-term visa holders who "age-out” (see reference). This will allow children who are aging out to qualify for protections similar to the DACA program. 4. Grant work authorization to documented Dreamers who meet certain criteria. Currently, children of non-immigrant visa holders are not eligible for work authorization despite many individuals meeting the requirement for DACA. If an E2/H4 child's parent had lost status prior to 2012, that child would be eligible for work authorization. If they maintained status, the child would not be eligible for work authorization. 5. Direct USCIS to use dates for filing (DFFs) to determine age of dependent children instead of final action dates (FADs) when determining green card eligibility for children of family‐based or employment‐based immigrants (see reference). Note that action number 5 alone will not help all documented Dreamers. This action will help prevent aging out of future H4 dependents, but will not protect H4 dreamers who have already aged out or children of other long-term visa holders who do not have a pathway to citizenship (E2).
What is the history of legislation offered for Documented Dreamers?In 2021, Rep. Deborah Ross and Rep. Miller-Meeks introduced HR. 4331, America's CHILDREN Act, to permanently end aging out for children of long-term visa holders. The companion bill, S. 2753 was introduced in the Senate by Senators Alex Padilla and Rand Paul. Visit AmericasChildrenAct.com to learn more. Documented Dreamers have also been included in other proposed legislation: 1. HR. 6 Dream and Promise Act of 2021 2. Amendment offered by Congressman Collin Peterson to HR 6 in 2019. 3. Believe Act (Section 4 of S2091 from 116th Congress) by Senator Rand Paul exempts documented Dreamers from numerical limitations for green cards, if the individual grew up in the U.S., has spent an aggregate of 10 years, obtained a college degree in the U.S., and has a job offer. 4. Republican Consensus Immigration Bill (HR 6136 from 115th Congress) 5. RAC Act by Congressman Curbelo (HR 1468 from 115th Congress) 6. S1937 from 115th Congress by Senator Flake 2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform, SA 1710 Amendment offered by Senator Marco Rubio
How is it possible for someone who grows up in the U.S. with a legal status to not have a clear path to citizenship?Many immigrants and their children come to the United States under legal nonimmigrant visas such as the H1B or the E2. Most high-skilled immigrants enter the United States under the H1B visa. Due to long backlogs for certain countries (disproportionately affecting immigrants from India), the children who came with their parents "age-out" of their status at age 21, before parents obtain a green card. So they have to leave the country unless they find a temporary way to stay. The greencard backlog disproportionately affects immigrants from India due to the 7% per country caps for employment based green card. Check out this medium article for a deeper understanding. E2 non-immigrant visa holders (immigrant small business owners employing Americans) have no pathway to citizenship. So the children these job creators bring with them have to self-deport at 21 or when they lose other temporary status. The children of these long-term visa holders “age-out” of their dependent status because current law only allows them to remain as dependents on their parent’s visa until 21. While they can move onto a temporary student visa for school, after completing their education, they must leave the country they grew up in, unless they are lucky enough to be sponsored by an employer. Meanwhile, when growing up and while in college, these individuals are not eligible for work authorization like DACA recipients or even in-state tuition in many states. (Ironically, they would have been eligible for work authorization, in-state tuition in many states, and proposals such as the Dream Act had their parents lost status). Data from the Cato Institute shows there are more than 200,000 "documented Dreamers." (See Cato Article 1 and Cato Article 2)
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Our advocacy community provides an opportunity to help raise awareness with others in a similar situation as yourself and also provide a platform to navigate the immigration system as a dependent or aged-out individual.