Sens. Rand Paul, Alex Padilla Introduce Bill That Seeks To Provide Pathway To Citizenship For ‘Documented Dreamers’

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Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic California Sen. Alex Padilla introduced legislation Wednesday that would give more than 200,000 “documented dreamers” a path to citizenship.

The bipartisan “America’s Children Act” would provide “children of long-term visa holders who have been waiting for years” a chance at citizenship before they turn 21.

“We cannot turn our backs on the ‘Documented Dreamers’ who have spent most of their lives in this country, contributing to their communities and our economy but face continued uncertainty and risk deportation once they turn 21,” Padilla said in a statement. “These young people deserve the opportunity to pursue their American dream and continue building lives in the country they call home.”

More than 200,000 children and young adults are legal dependents of migrants who hold nonimmigrant visas such as H-1B visas and grew up in the U.S., but face deportation upon reaching 21, when their dependent status expires. Visas, like the H-4 and L-2, are limited to cover spouses and dependents under 21. While these dependents are able to obtain green cards, “they often end up stuck in a decades-long backlog,” according to Padilla’s office.

Aside from providing a pathway to citizenship, the legislation would also create an “age-out” protection that uses the child’s age on the date which they filed for a green card rather than using the “final action date.” The legislation would also provide work authorization for the “documented dreamers” who are over the age of 16 but whose green cards are still pending. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Democrats’ Slideshow Highlights Amnesty Proposal For Illegal Immigrants That Would Cost $105 Billion In Reconciliation Bill)

Individuals, however, would be required to have been residing in the U.S. for a total of 10 continuous years, including four while under their parent’s work visa.

“These children who have legally called the United States home for many years and even decades, are contributing members in our communities and to our economy,” Paul said. “They shouldn’t be penalized by the government’s failures in addressing green card backlogs.”

A majority of “documented dreamers” are Asian-American, according to AXIOS.

Paul has been vocal in recent years that Republicans must show Hispanic voters they are not “just the party of deportation.”

During a 2014 symposium, Paul said it’s up to the Republican party “to get beyond deportation to get to the rest of the issues.”

“I think one way to get the door ajar is say that you know, Mrs. Garcia’s nephew is not going to be sent home to Mexico,” he said. “You know, because everybody – even those who are here illegally – know somebody who is here who doesn’t have the proper visa.”