On Tuesday, several Democrats from the Senate introduced a new bill that would lift the ban on those that receive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from looking for congressional employment and internships.
According to CQ Roll Call, the American Dream Employment Act would make an amendment to a provision that was added into the annual appropriations bills that prevent most noncitizens, including those that are a part of Dreamers, from being able to work for the federal government.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Kamala Harris, said: “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. 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,” continued Harris. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick first introduced the bill earlier this year. Several immigrant-rights groups and 57 bi-partisan co-sponsors have shown their support for the bill.
Previous versions of the American Dream Employment Act were introduced in 2016 and 2017, but they have been unsuccessful. Some of the Republicans who are against DACA say that the bill condones legal immigration.
In January, U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs said: “Illegal immigrants have continued bringing children into the country since 2012. In fact, the number of children being sent or brought illegally into the country has increased.”
President Donald Trump, who opposes DACA, has said that former President Barack Obama overstepped his boundaries when the program was created by his administration. The purpose of DACA is to protect roughly 700,000 young adults who were illegally brought to the United States when they were children. Trump has done his best to put an end to DACA, but last year, a federal court ruled that it needed to be restarted.
There are quite a few DACA recipients who were shocked to find out that there were restrictions against them when it came to working for Congress. Angel Silva was just a baby when he was brought to the United States from Mexico. According to Roll Call, Silva interviewed for a full-time position with a Democratic senator’s office after completing an internship in 2017 in the House of Representatives through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
If a third party funds an internship it’s perfectly legal, but unbelievably competitive. “After my interview, they were supposed to call me at the end of the day about next steps. I got the call and thought, ‘Oh great, I’ll learn what my next steps are.’ That’s when a staffer said there is this prohibition that bars DACA recipients from working at the federal level. I couldn’t even work for [the Federal Housing Authority] or the Forest Service,” Silva said.
Sen. Dick Durbin from Illinois and former Sen. Orin Hatch from Utah are responsible for introducing the DREAM Act in 2001. Sen. Durbin has said that the ban deprives Congress of an entire pool of talented employees. “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,” he said.