RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Congresswoman Deborah Ross held a roundtable discussion Friday morning, regarding her immigration reform efforts to help Documented Dreamers.
Documented Dreamers are children who moved with their families to the U.S. and live under their parents’ employment-based visas.
Ross told CBS17 she is now advocating for expanded protections for them. Dreamers age out of the protections when they turn 21.
On Friday, three Documented Dreamers shared their stories with Ross, explaining how their visa status impacts their lives.
Shristi Sharma is a dual student at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University. She is majoring in computer science, with a double minor in neuroscience and psychology.
Sharma hopes to work at NASA or in the Space Force once she graduates, but is not sure she’ll be able to.
In a year and a half when she turns 21, Sharma will no longer be protected under her parents’ visas.
Sharma is one of 200,000 Documented Dreamers in the U.S., many of whom may have to self-deport when they age out.
She is applying for a student visa, and eventually a work visa, but it’s not a guarantee.
“We are Americans at heart, and all we want is for someone to acknowledge that on paper,” said Sharma. “We just want that security in where we’re staying. It’s a threat every single day to wake up with the thought, ‘is today the day I have to leave?”
She’s now working with Ross on efforts to get 10 more Republican Senate votes to approve amendments on two bills that will offer protections to Documented Dreamers.
Ross said she is advocating for this group, not just so they can continue to call the U.S. their home, and stay with their families, but so their hard work can benefit this country.
She believes there is a huge economic benefit from passing these amendments.
“It is tremendously important in the Research Triangle area because we have so many jobs for tech workers and highly skilled workers. In fact , it’s the STEM businesses who are lobbying the most,” explained Ross. “These are young, highly-skilled, highly-motivated workers who will be available in a range of fields. And we need them now.”
Ross said the impact doesn’t end there.
One of the Documented Dreamers at Friday’s meeting expressed interest in joining the military and cited recent national concerns with current recruitment efforts.
Ross said once they can ensure protections for Documented Dreamers, she wants to focus on helping DACA dreamers, since the program is currently under review.