Harris, Cortez Masto, Durbin Introduce Bill to Lift Ban on DREAMers Working for Congress

Press Release, U.S. Senate, April 3, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Wednesday introduced the American Dream Employment Act, legislation to rescind the current prohibition on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients working or participating in paid internships in Congress.

“The giant sign outside my office says ‘DREAMers Welcome Here’ because we know and value the contributions that these young people have made to their communities. But right now, those same young people are banned from giving back to their country by working for Congress. That has to change,” said Harris. “Government works best when it reflects the people it represents. Our nation’s DREAMers are some of our best and brightest, and it’s time they had the opportunity to get a job or paid internship on Capitol Hill.”

“Congress prides itself on recruiting the best talent to craft policies that address America’s greatest challenges. Yet, we’ve created obstacles that keep some of our brightest young minds from fully contributing to our country. The American Dream Employment Act would expand Congress’ talent pool, give Dreamers a seat at the table, and strengthen policymaking for all Americans,” said Cortez Masto.

“Since I first introduced the Dream Act in 2001, I have met hundreds of Dreamers who are giving back to their communities as teachers, nurses, engineers, and soldiers. Many of them are dedicated to public service, and it makes no sense to deprive Congress of this homegrown talent pool,” said Durbin. “I’ve been proud to have several Dreamers work in my office as volunteer interns and have seen firsthand how the people of Illinois would benefit if Dreamers could serve as paid employees in my office. I thank Senator Harris for her leadership in introducing this critical legislation and look forward to working with her to make it the law of the land.”

The American Dream Employment Act would amend current law to include DACA beneficiaries as an additional category of individuals eligible for paid employment in Congress. This change would apply solely to employment in the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), where it has 57 bipartisan co-sponsors.

The bill is supported by United We Dream, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, FWD.us, the Immigration Hub, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the National Immigration Law Center, and Unidos.

“With programs like DACA, TPS, and DED, undocumented immigrant youth had the chance to live and thrive without the fear of deportation, but there were still barred from paid employment on Capitol Hill. The American Dream Employment Act is an important solution to this barrier, and this bill and similar proactive policies would open the door for immigrant youth to access opportunities within the halls of Congress. We hope to see congressional champions continue to address the structural educational and workforce barriers faced by undocumented people across the country. We also encourage congressional champions to dream big! Our communities need more solutions which reject sending more money to the deportation force and instead deliver citizenship, family unity, and dignity for all,” said Greisa Martinez Rosas, a DACA recipient and Deputy Executive Director of United We Dream.

In addition to Senators Harris, Cortez Masto, and Durbin, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hirono (D-HI), Klobuchar (D-MN), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Murray (D-WA), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT), Smith (D-MN), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warren (D-MA) and Wyden (D-OR).

For further information on the bill, click here.

For full bill text, click here.

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