‘Documented Dreamers’ don’t have much time left in the US


An Indian-origin woman, who has spent most of her life in the United States from the age four, told US lawmakers that she would be forced to leave the US in eight months in the absence of any meaningful legislative reforms in an immigration system that addressed the major issue of aged out kids.

There are millions of immigrants, especially Indians who are facing a similar fate and they are called the ‘Dreamers’, who are basically undocumented immigrants who enter the US as children with parents.

Athulya Rajakumar, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin from the Moody College of Communication, told members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety on Tuesday, March 15.

“Without a change in eight months, I will be forced to leave, not only my home of 20 years but also my mom who is my only family left,” said Rajakumar.

Testifying before the subcommittee during a hearing on “Removing Barriers to Legal Migration,” the Indian-American told the Senators that over 5,000 documented dreamers face this every year.

“Erin, a nursing graduate was forced to self-deport last summer in the midst of a pandemic,…a data analyst student was forced to self-deport two months ago, Summer will be forced to self-deport in four months, even though her family has legally resided here since she was a baby,” she said.

An aspiring journalist, Rajakumar, from Washington State, shared the story of her family’s struggle through years of immigration limbo, which contributed to her brother’s tragic death.

“I’m outraged by this broken system that you, your brother, and thousands of documented dreamers have had to face. We organized this hearing today because we cannot allow the inaction of Congress to continue to cause this suffering,” Senator Alex Padilla said in his remarks.

Alex Padilla is chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, Barriers to legal migration routinely separate families across international borders for years, he said.

“Visa caps that keep employers from expanding their businesses and hold back the US economy, an arbitrary cutoff for legal status that forced children, visa holders, to leave the only country they’ve ever known when they age out of their parents’ visas. The gap between our country’s needs and the realities of our broken immigration system should come as no surprise,” Padilla said.

According to the Senator, currently, there’s a backlog of 1.4 million people who are eligible for employment-based visas.

“Employment-based visas allow participating immigrants to bring extraordinary skills to our workforce, start new businesses, create new jobs in rural areas, and to help address worker shortages in industries like health care,” he said.

“But only 140,000 of these individuals can obtain visas every year. Because the spouses and children who accompany them count against the total, far fewer than 70,000 visas actually go to eligible workers. Hundreds of thousands of others are left in limbo, restricted by a temporary visa, or turned away from their dreams and they’re kept from realizing their potential,” he said.

Ranking Member Senator John Cornyn said the Congressional Research Service recently estimated that without significant changes, the employment-based green card backlog could exceed 2 million by 2030.

Employment-based visas, also known as green cards, allow migrants to gain lawful permanent residence in the US in order to engage in skilled work.

“Indian nationals have been hit especially hard because our system’s per-country caps do not allow them to receive more than seven percent of the available employment-based visas in any given year,” he said.