Documented Dreamers weigh self-deportation, say they've been left behind by Congress
Documented Dreamers say they have no long-term path to citizenship
As members of Congress debate a way to find room for some 2 million undocumented citizens known as Dreamers, nearly 200,000 documented Dreamers who came to the United States as dependents on temporary visas believe they have been left in the dust.
Pareen Mhatre, 21, was born in India, but came to the United States as an infant with her parents, who were studying at the University of Iowa. Mhatre grew up in Iowa and is now studying biomedical engineering. Her H-4 visa, which gave her documented Dreamer status, expired upon her 21st birthday in April.
Mhatre fears that if there is no long-term path to citizenship, she’ll have to self-deport and leave the only country she's known.
"One thing that I realized is, at every point in the immigration process, there will be some sort of hiccup," Mhatre told Fox News.
Mhatre did receive a positive hiccup recently when she learned her student visa was approved. The problem, says Mhatre, is that it ends in the fall of 2022. Then she may have to self-deport if there is not a long-term solution for documented Dreamers. There are approximately 200,000 documented dreamers in the United States.
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"It really hurts to hear that number because there are so many of us and knowing that there are this many people who have gone through or will go through the same barriers, it’s hurtful," Mhatre said.
Mhatre and others in her situation are part of Improve The Dream, a grassroots organization working to bring awareness to documented Dreamers who are facing self-deportation. Documented Dreamers like Mhatre are not covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) because they had legal status until age 21.
"Congress must find a way to pass these legislative solutions and I will continue to work toward passage of legislation protecting Dreamers and creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. These young people represent the best of America and we can’t let them down," President Biden said in a recent statement that does not specifically mention documented Dreamers.
"I think that everyone deserves a pathway to citizenship. Our immigration system needs fixing," Mhatre told Fox News.
Mhatre is working with Dip Patel, another young person who fears deportation. He came on an E2 Visa as a child, but aged out at 21. Patel is on a temporary work visa but also worries about being forced to leave.
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"It’s really sad to see that thousands of talented people who grow up here, were educated here, and really have skills that the United States needs, have to self-deport," Patel told Fox News.
There are currently two bills in Congress, but neither fixes the problem, according to Mhatre and Patrel. The Dream and Promise Act in the U.S. House of Representatives includes some documented Dreamers, but there are many nuances that cut out a bulk of the population. The Dream Act in the U.S. Senate does not include documented Dreamers such as Patel and Mhatre. The pair are working with Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., and co-sponsor Marionette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, to introduce the America’s CHILDREN Act, which would permanently protect children of legal immigrants from aging out.
"The children of these workers, known as Documented Dreamers, grow up in the United States, attend American schools, and graduate from American universities; however, they can be forced to self-deport at age 21 when their dependent visas expire. I’m honored to be introducing legislation to protect these young adults from aging out and provide them with a pathway to citizenship. By enabling Documented Dreamers to stay in the country they call home, we will make our nation more competitive and ensure all families are treated with dignity and respect," Ross said in a statement to Fox News.
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Mhatre and Patel tell Fox News they hope the approximately 200,000 documented Dreamers are included in the final bill signed by President Biden.
"We’re trying to raise awareness. We’re trying to help. We’re trying to win this fight," Mhatre said.