Sen. Kamala Harris wants to see DACA recipients getting paid to work for Congress.
The California Democrat joined several of her colleagues Tuesday to introduce a bill that would allow illegal immigrant “Dreamers” to get congressional jobs and paid internships, Politico reported.
“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,” the 2020 presidential candidate said in a news release referring to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“But right now, those same young people are banned from giving back to their country by working for Congress. That has to change,” she added. “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.”
The American Dream Employment Act, which was first introduced in the House earlier this year by Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, seeks to lift the ban on noncitizens, including Dreamers, from working in the federal government. Harris, who represents a state with the most DACA recipients in the country, co-sponsored the legislation along with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada.
Harris, who is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, seems to be focusing on immigrant rights and immigration reform as she seizes on the issue that her 2020 rivals, like former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former San Antonio mayor, Julián Castro, who unveiled his own immigration reform plan this week which included decriminalization of border crossings.
“She’s been a strong advocate particularly on issues that I’m concerned about: comprehensive immigration reform, DACA and Dreamers,” Durbin said. “I think there’s a certain intensity to her position based on the state she represents because of the diversity of” California.
Dreamers represent the best of who we are as a nation. And there are Dreamers across the country that want to give back and serve the public in Congress. But right now, they aren’t eligible to work for pay. Today I introduced a bill to change that.https://t.co/y4NthU1d9V
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 3, 2019
Many were not even aware of the provision added to the annual appropriations bills which prohibit noncitizens from being employed in Congress, something Arizona Rep. Greg Stanton called “mean-spirited,” according to Roll Call.
DACA recipient Angel Silva, who arrived as a one-year-old in the U.S. from Mexico, interviewed with a Democratic senator’s office for a full-time position after he completed an internship in the House in 2017 through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
“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, according to Roll Call.
President Trump announced a plan to phase out the program created by former President Barack Obama in an executive order. But last year, federal courts ruled against the administration and ordered the program restarted.
The American Dream Employment Act is backed by more than 50 Democrats, at a time when many Americans have made it clear they want stronger immigration laws. But Democrats continue to push their immigrant-first ideology as they put the needs of those here illegally ahead of American citizens.
Harris is clearly on board with progressive Democrats who want open borders and advocate for the rights of noncitizens. The senator has also introduced legislation seeking to have more oversight of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.
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