Durbin, Cortez Masto Introduce Legislation to Allow Dreamers to Work in Congress

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) this week introduced the American Dream Employment Act, legislation to rescind the current prohibition on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients working or participating in paid internships in Congress.

“I have met hundreds of Dreamers who are giving back to their communities as teachers, nurses, engineers, soldiers, civil rights advocates and more. Many Dreamers and TPS recipients are dedicated to public service, and it makes no sense to deprive Congress of this talent pool. I am proud to introduce the American Dream Employment Act with Sen. Cortez Masto, which would finally let Dreamers and TPS recipients work as paid employees or interns on Capitol Hill,” Durbin said. “I’ve been proud to have several Dreamers work in my office as volunteer interns, and Illinois would stand to benefit if they are given this chance to be paid employees.”

“The laws created here in Congress affect the whole country, yet for too long we have failed to reflect America’s diversity in our policy making process,” said Cortez Masto. “This legislation would remove current obstacles that prevent some of our brightest young minds from working in the House and Senate. Dreamers and TPS recipients have made immeasurable contributions to our economy and communities across the country, and I’m proud to introduce this bill to give them the opportunity to have their voices heard in the halls of Congress."

In addition to Durbin and Cortez Masto, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tina Smith (D-MN), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Warner (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Under current law, paid employment in the House or Senate is only available to individuals who are either U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents who have started the naturalization process, or certain refugees and individuals granted asylum. The American Dream Employment Act would lift the prohibition on DACA and TPS recipients working or securing paid internships in congressional offices. DACA and TPS recipients are excluded from job opportunities in Congress—unless they work for government contractors. 

Across America, over 800,000 people have received DACA, and approximately 411,000 people are TPS holders. These hundreds of thousands of immigrants have temporary work authorization that allow them to work legally in the U.S. in order to support themselves and their families. But current law prevents them from pursuing a career shaping the laws in the country they love and call home. 

The bill is supported by United We Dream, UnidosUS, FWD.us, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Immigration Hub, TPS Committee of Nevada, and Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center. 

Click here to view full text of the bill.