Provisions for Children in the Immigration Reform Bill
The immigration reform bill that was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, includes amendments that would keep families together. This bill would prevent children from entering foster care, when their undocumented parents are placed in immigration detention or removed from the country. 25 percent of the US child population comprises of the children of immigrants and so the immigration reform bill must address the needs of such children.
Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) Status for Children
Children of undocumented immigrants in America, who were present in the country on 31st December, 2011, would be entitled to derivative status and they would become eligible for RPI status, if their parents apply for RPI status. Even if the applications filed by the parents for RPI status are denied, their children would still remain eligible for this temporary status. Moreover, minor children may not be required to pay penalties and the form filing fees. This would also apply to the undocumented youth below age 21 and they would not be required to pay the form filing fees and penalties. Nevertheless, young children who do not meet the requirements under the DREAM Act, would not be put on a fast track to US citizenship and they need to wait for 13 years to become US citizens.
Provisions for DREAM Act Eligible Students
The immigration bill of the Gang of Eight would provide the DREAM Act eligible students with an expedited 5 year path to US citizenship. To become eligible for the five year expedited path to US citizenship, they must establish that they entered into America before age 16 and that they hold high school degrees or that they have completed four years of military service in America. Similar to the other undocumented immigrants, DREAMers could apply for RPI status and after five years, they could apply for permanent resident status. As soon as they obtain their Green Cards, they could apply for US citizenship and become citizens of the country. This would apply to all the DREAMers who establish that they were minors at the time of entering into the country and there is no upper age cap. DREAMers would not be required to pay penalties but they would not become eligible for federal financial aid. DREAMers who were deported from the country prior to 31st December, 2011 would be permitted to apply for RPI status and re-enter the United States. These DREAMers also could apply for legal status after five years and for US citizenship, immediately after obtaining Green Cards. However, we need to remember that the five year path to US citizenship is meant only for the DREAMers.
The Senate immigration reform bill, under the child welfare system, would reunite the children in America with their parents who were deported from the United States. The bill would also make sure that the parents who are in deportation proceedings are provided assistance in making arrangements for their children before they are removed from the country. This bill would also modify the family immigration system that would help reunite separated families.