For the first time, White House officials met with a representative group of documented “dreamers,” mostly Indian-Americans, who heeded a patient’s concerns about aging and indicated there could be positive steps so they don’t have to leave the country where they have spent almost all of their lives.
The so-called documented dreamers, estimated to be about 250,000, grew up legally in the US but risk deportation when they turn 21.
“We look forward to positive policy changes, both administrative and legislative, to end aging,” says Improve the Dream, a youth-led grassroots organization fighting for the cause of the documented dreamers.
Early this week, a large representative group from Improve the Dream met Betsy Lawrence, the president’s deputy assistant for immigration, and Erika L. Moritsugu, deputy assistant to the president and Asian-American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders.
Although these children have come to Washington DC in recent years, this is the first time senior White House officials have met them.
“I really appreciated meeting the White House officials who took the time to come and listen to our stories and were willing to help us. I enjoyed meeting them and would like to thank them for everything they have the first group in our situation to meet White House officials at the White House, it was a surreal experience and one that I will not forget,” said Sri Harini Kundu.
Mr. Harini came to America when he was seven years old and has since lived in three US states, Texas, New Jersey and currently North Carolina.
He will be 23 in September this year. “I currently have F1 student visa status and will have to deport myself once I finish my education. I am about to graduate in the fall of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North.”
Eti and her twin sister Eva, who is now 25, were brought to the US at the age of seven when their father began his PhD. When they were in high school, their father’s employer sponsored their father and family members for a green card. After aging due to their parents’ visa and green card application, Eva and Eti switched from a temporary visa to a temporary visa.
Eti told PTI: “For years I felt like I was being forgotten by the government. Being able to share my experiences as a documented dreamer getting older and having my family separated, I finally felt like I was being listened to. The Biden’s administration seems to be very empathetic to the hardships thousands of us face every year. I am more confident that some of the injustices will be resolved soon.”
Eva was lucky enough to find an employer to sponsor her for a work visa and is about to enter the back of the 150-year green card line, while Eti has an international student visa to complete her PhD and is currently in no line.
Chandana Karumanchi said that after years of feeling alone and her situation spiraling out of control, speaking with these government officials about her experience was truly an unforgettable moment.
“The senior officials who recognized our problems as real and needed that immediate response aligned with the idea that documented dreamers have a place in American society. It really made me feel like I belong here. By giving us the opportunity actively participating in our democracy, the senior White House officials have also made me feel that I and everyone else who is part of Improve the Dream can make a difference in our situation,” she said.
These children also attended a press conference hosted by influential lawmakers at Congress.
“By attending the press conference yesterday and having the opportunity to give my testimony with Representative Ross, I was able to represent and fight for change not just for myself but for all 200,000 documented dreamers struggling to pursue their dreams and careers.” with a constant fear and ticking clock of self-portation. It was an honor to be heard and now we must put our words into action, said Fedora Castelino, who is 18 years old.
“I came to the US with my parents when I was seven years old, and I have had a lifelong dream to serve in our country’s armed forces. During high school I took engineering with the hope of one day participating in a ROTC program in college and having a future in the US Army Corps of Engineers. However, this was not possible due to my restrictions on an H-4 visa,” he said.
Dip Patel, founder of Improve the Dream, said: “For the first time, more than 20 young immigrants from Improve The Dream visited the White House this week and met with senior immigration administrators to discuss the issue of aging and the green card disadvantage for affected youth.”
“This week they were able to tell their stories not only to the executive office, but also to their lawmakers and the congressmen who represent them. Their advocacy has spread them throughout the Capitol Chambers meeting with senators and representatives from Indiana, Florida, Iowa. and more,” he said.
More than 250,000 children and young adults live in the United States as dependents of long-term nonimmigrant visa holders (including H-1B, L-1, E-1, and E-2 employees). These individuals grow up in the United States, attend American schools, and graduate from American universities. Because they have retained legal status, documented dreamers are not eligible for Deferred Action for Arrivals of Children (DACA) protection or the associated work permit.
Last July, several lawmakers introduced the bipartisan America’s Children Act into the House and Senate. If passed, the bill would put an end to aging for good and provide these young people with a pathway to permanent residence.
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