Kirkpatrick introduces The American Dream Employment Act
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., today introduced The American Dream Employment Act, a bill that would allow DREAMers – undocumented young people granted exemption from deportation – to be employed by congressional offices.
Current law prevents the House and Senate from employing anyone who is not either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident currently seeking naturalization, with the exception of certain refugees and those granted asylum. This means individuals who are otherwise allowed to work in the U.S. through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy cannot be hired by any branch of the federal government, including Congress.
Kirkpatrick said, “DREAMers are young people who call our country home, and they deserve a fair shot at opportunities that can shape their future. Telling these young people they cannot work in the seat of our government is like telling them they deserve something less than the American dream. That’s the wrong message to send – especially from an institution like Congress that could really benefit from their unique abilities and perspectives.”
Kirkpatrick’s colleague from Arizona, U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, is one of the original co-sponsors of the bill. “DREAMers have grown up in the United States and call our country home. They are a part of our community, and rather than making their lives more difficult, we should celebrate their contributions and give them opportunities to succeed,” said Gallego, who joined Kirkpatrick on a recent Arizona Republic op-ed about the risk of a Supreme Court vacancy leaving immigrant families in legal limbo. “These talented, smart individuals have a lot to contribute, and we would be fortunate to have them working with us on Capitol Hill and at home in our districts.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, co-chairman of the Immigration Taskforce of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said, “If you have been issued a work permit by the federal government, you should be permitted to work in Congress, plain and simple. There is no good reason to discriminate against people raised in this country who have permission to work here. DREAMers are great assets to our nation, and we should treat them as such.”
The American Dream Employment Act, H.R. 4842, would open congressional office jobs to DACA recipients, allowing them to work in the House and Senate. The bill would not affect any other federal agency or department.
Current employment guidelines are set by a provision included annually in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. The American Dream Employment Act would amend this section by adding DACA beneficiaries to the list of individuals authorized to be paid employees of Congress.
Since its inception in 2012, DACA has allowed nearly 665,000 individuals to work in the United States without the threat of deportation. To qualify for DACA, applicants must have come to the United States before their 16th birthday and either be currently enrolled in school or have earned a high school diploma or GED. Those who have received an honorable discharge from the U.S. military are also eligible for DACA benefits. Any individual convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor is deemed ineligible for deferred action.
Kirkpatrick’s bill has 24 original co-sponsors: Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva, Joaquin Castro, Jan Schakowsky, Ruben Hinojosa, John Lewis, Kathy Castor, Mark Takano, Julia Brownley, John Conyers, Zoe Lofgren, Gene Green, Gwen Moore, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Charles Rangel, Mike Honda, Grace Napolitano, Tony Cardenas, Marc Veasey, Eric Swalwell, Luis Gutierrez, Adam Smith, Judy Chu, Jared Polis.