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The precarious case of documented Dreamers

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Your parent migrated to the United States under an official work visa when you were just a few months old. You grow up, go to school and live much like any other American. But at the age of 21, you learn you risk deportation.

A child of long-term visa holders is trapped in immigration limbo.

Pareen Mhatre was brought to the United States when she was young as a dependent on her mother's student visa. Her parents both switched to work visas in 2008 and 2009. Mhatre grew up in Iowa City and went on to study at the University of Iowa. But despite growing up here and having little connection to her home country, the clock is ticking on her time in the U.S. with no pathway to staying permanently.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Mhatre about the 200,000 “documented Dreamers” and the precarious position the U.S. immigration system leaves them in. She’s then joined by Dip Patel, president of Improve the Dream, a group hoping to help the children of migrants left in this position. Last, we expand the conversation with Ann Naffier, the co-legal Director for Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, to hear about how this situation fits into broader challenges within the immigration system.


  • Pareen Mhatre, biomedical engineering student at the University of Iowa and communications manager for Improve the Dream
  • Dip Patel, president of Improve the Dream
  • Ann Naffier, co-legal director for Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa