The day after presidential candidate Kamala Harris campaigned in Reno, the California senator and several other Democratic senators, including Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto, announced “The American Dream Employment Act of 2019,” a bill that would allow DREAMers to hold paid internships in Congress.
Under current federal law, paid employment in the House and Senate is limited to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who have started the naturalization process, a law that effectively bans DACA recipients from working in congressional offices.
“Congress prides itself on recruiting the best talent to craft policies that address America’s greatest challenges,” said Cortez Masto. “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.”
Since the Obama administration implemented the DACA program in 2012, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have been granted permits that allow them to work legally in the U.S., but federal law still prohibits them from working in Congress. The proposed bill would only authorize their employment in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
“Government works best when it reflects the people it represents,” said Harris. “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.”
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), where it has 57 bipartisan co-sponsors.
In addition to Senators Cortez Masto and Harris the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Durbin (D-IL), Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), 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), and Wyden (D-OR).