PHILADELPHIA – The Indian American Impact Project, or IMPACT, recently launched a “We Are Home” essay contest to raise awareness and highlight the many obstacles that 250,000+ South Asian DREAMers face including: constant uncertainty over their status, threat of deportation, and limited opportunities for employment, scholarships and financial aid.
“For far too long, both undocumented and documented South Asian DREAMers have been overlooked in the immigration debate,” said Neil Makhija, executive director of the Indian American Impact Project. Our immigration laws still manifest the remnants of exclusionary quotas of the 1920s that were designed to keep Asians out of the United States, he noted in a press release.
While there is technically a “pathway” for Indian immigrants on long-term visas to get citizenship, the pathway is 195 years long, due to the quotas or ‘country caps’ in our green card process, the release added. The children of these immigrants, by age 21, must leave the only place that they’ve ever known as home.
“We hope by sharing their stories, leaders and policy makers will understand that these DREAMers are Americans,” Makhija said.
First place winners of IMPACT’s essay contest will receive a cash scholarship of up to $5,000. Finalists will be invited to Washington, D.C. for an event with special guests, and their essays published in Brown Girl Magazine.
“Documented Dreamers and other young immigrants who have been raised and educated here as Americans, have been forced to grow up without the same opportunities as our peers,” said Dip Patel, a Documented Dreamer and founder of Improve the Dream. “Growing up as Documented Dreamers, we cannot work, qualify for FAFSA, student loans, in-state tuition, and many scholarships. These obstacles hurt us in our pursuit of our American Dream.”
According to the release, the applicant’s national origin must be a South Asian country, must be aged 16-24, and be currently enrolled in a high school or college in the United States.
Applicant must have DACA or TPS status, or be undocumented, meaning currently do not have lawful status in the United States or have grown up in the United States as the dependent of a nonimmigrant visa holder such as the H-1B, E-1, or E-2 visa, and face(d) aging out of their status at age 21 (“Documented Dreamers”).
All essays must be submitted by Oct. 15 at 11:55 pm EST.