WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) joined Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in introducing the American Dream Employment Act, a legislation that would rescind the current prohibition on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients from working or participating in paid internships in Congress.
“Dreamers are Americans in every way but on paper and they deserve the opportunity to pursue a career of public service in Congress,” said Sen. Menendez. “This critical piece of legislation will break down barriers for Dreamers on Capitol Hill and give them the chance to work in full-time positions shaping the very policies that will affect their lives and their futures. I’m pleased to join my colleagues in introducing legislation that will give Dreamers the chance to succeed in Congress the same way they are succeeding in countless industries across America.”
“For DREAMers, the United States is their home. They are our neighbors, classmates, community leaders, service members, teachers—DREAMers love this country,” said Senator Booker. “It’s time we show these DREAMers this country loves them back and allow them to work and contribute to this country in any way they choose, including working for the United States Congress. This legislation recognizes the dignity of these young people and the value they would bring to Congress as employees. When we lift up those around us, we all benefit.”
“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 Sen. 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 Sen. 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 Sen. 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 they 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.
For further information on the bill, click here.
In addition to Senators Menendez, Booker, Harris, Cortez Masto, and Durbin, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
For full bill text, click here.