Immigrant youth without permanent legal status would get a shot at paid work in Congress under a bill scheduled to be introduced Wednesday, April 3.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, and two other senators are introducing the “American Dream Employment Act,” which would amend current law to allow DACA recipients paid internships and other employment in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Current law allows paid employment in Congress to people who are citizens, or lawful permanent residents who are on their way to becoming citizens. That bars people who have a temporary work permit under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a controversial program created by President Obama and at risk of being dismantled under the Trump administration.
DACA holders are younger immigrants brought to the country illegally as children who have two-year renewable deferments from deportation. The DACA status comes with a social security number and a work permit but no direct path to citizenship.
“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,” Harris said in a news release.
“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,” she said.
(DACA holders and other younger immigrants are called “Dreamers” based on a proposed federal law called the Dream Act that was never passed.)
The proposed bill from Senators Harris, Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is similar to one introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Arizona, in the House, where it has 57 co-sponsors. Co-sponsors of Kirkpatrick’s bill include Rep. Luis Correa, D-Santa Ana, and Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-Yorba Linda.
The legislation is supported by various pro-immigrant rights organizations, including United We Dream, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center.
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