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Hoosier siblings fight for citizenship

Khushi and Lay Patel are among the more than 200,000 Documented Dreamers in the United States.

INDIANAPOLIS — Khushi and Lay Patel are in a race to save their lives.

"I think kicking us out or having us deport, leave the country, just goes against that value of being American," said Khushi Patel, a sophomore at Indiana University.

The Patels are Documented Dreamers, brought to America as kids under their parents' visa.

Under the terms of their E-2 dependent visa, they must self-deport once they graduate college or turn 21, unless hired by a company to help them obtain a work visa.

They will have no legal status in America due to aging out of their parents' visa.

"We shouldn't be limited in our search for freedom," said Lay Patel, an IU senior.

Lay is studying economics and media production with a minor in finance. He graduates in six weeks.

"Once I graduate, I'll have to switch to a different status because my student status will have expired. My one potential route is the Optical Practical Training (OPT)," said Lay. "It takes a while to process. I would only have 60 days after I graduate in order to get that process and remain here legally."

Lay said Sen. Todd Young's office is assisting him with that application process.

RELATED: Indiana Documented Dreamers push lawmakers to pass America's Children Act

The Patels are among the more than 200,000 Documented Dreamers in the United States, and more than 8,000 in Indiana.

The siblings have been pushing members of Congress to pass America's Children Act

"Most young people at this age are starting to build their lives, but we are limited by bureaucracy," said Lay. 

The bill was introduced in the Senate but has stalled in the Judiciary Committee.

RELATED: House passes bills offering path to citizenship for Dreamers, farm workers

"We're so close, but people are still having to leave," said Khushi. "I'm 19 years old and I feel like I shouldn't have to worry about where I'm going to be in the next two years, if I have to leave my family, if I have to leave the country."

Khushi, who wants to be a doctor, said inaction on the bill is impacting their future.

"I could potentially have an offer to do an internship doing research in Indianapolis this summer at Eli Lilly. If I was given this internship, I'm still not sure I'd be able to take it, even though I did all the interviewing, I would still have to apply for CPT, or curricular practical training. It just feels like you're put into another box, another bubble," she said.

The Patels have this message for members of Congress.

"Please take this into consideration. Help us move this forward. It's not just Lay and I, it's thousands of other kids in our situation that are dealing with these issues," Khushi said.

Issues they're hoping to resolve and helps lead them, and thousands of other Documented Dreamers, on the path to permanent status.

Click here to learn more about Improve The Dream, a youth-led organization that advocates for young immigrants.

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