Dip Patel (in photograph above) was 9 years old when he came to the United States legally with his parents and now, at age 25, he has been struggling to get legal resident status — the green card.
That struggle led him to start a campaign to advocate for legally documented children at risk of losing status because their parents’ green cards are stuck in the backlog.
On Thursday, Patel sounded happy and pleased that finally the United States Congress had listened to the voices of those like him by introducing the bill for America’s CHILDREN Act, a bipartisan legislation to protect “Documented Dreamers.”
The first of its kind bill introduced July 1 by US Representatives Deborah Ross (Democrat, North Carolina), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Republican, Iowa), Raja Krishnamoorthi (Democrat, Illinois) and Young Kim (Republican, California) will protect documented immigrant children from aging out of immigration status at 21.
“Over 200,000 children and young adults are living in the United States as dependents of long-term nonimmigrant visa holders (including H-1B, L-1, E-1, and E-2 workers),” Congresswoman Ross was quoted as saying in a media communique on her website.
“These individuals grow up in the United States, attend American schools, and graduate from American universities. Because they have maintained legal status, Documented Dreamers are not eligible for protection under DACA or the work authorization that comes with it,” she added.
These Documented Dreamers are mostly children of skilled workers and are on H-4 dependent visas. Patel said “almost 80 percent” of the 200,000 Documented Dreamers are Indian.
Patel, who like many had to change visa status to F1 at 21, works as a pharmacist for a health system in Illinois.
In 2017, he started Improve the Dream, an advocacy nonprofit to raise awareness about such children.
“When I was young, I always thought if I came here as a child, grew up here and graduated from college, then you should be able to get a green card,” he said.
However, growing up, he was disappointed to learn that cannot apply for internships and would lose status at age 21. He has been trying to raise awareness about the isue for quite some time.
“When I am free I spend all my time working on it,” he said. “There was never a bill like this before that is why it is significant.
“Just having this bill introduced and raising awareness and showing bipartisan support for it, will allow us to get better language included in any Dreamer legislation that is moving,” he added.