The courts have recently ruled that federal law protects DACA immigrants from citizenship discrimination.
Daniel Marques would probably be working as a financial adviser for a big investment firm in New Jersey right now.
David Rodriguez might have landed an internship with Procter & Gamble in Miami.
Sandy Vasquez might be an engineering intern in Silicon Valley.
Ruben Juarez might have snagged a finance internship in Connecticut.
All four of them went to college and graduated with honors. And all four of them say they were denied jobs, even though they had valid work permits because they are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
The Obama-era program began in 2012 and offers temporary work authorization and deportation relief to qualified undocumented immigrants under the age of 38 who grew up in the United States. In January and February, two federal courts ordered the Department of Homeland Security to continue renewing work permits for DACA holders after President Donald Trump tried to end the program in 2017.
As the legal battle over DACA continues to wind its way through the courts, a related legal battle is on the rise. DACA immigrants are suing US employers for denying them jobs because they aren’t citizens. Despite presenting valid work permits from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, recruiters at several large corporations told them they only hire US citizens or immigrants with green cards. Some said they only hire employees whose work permits don’t expire (DACA must be renewed every two years).
DACA workers say these actions are a form of citizenship discrimination prohibited under the Civil Rights Act of 1866. At least four DACA workers who were denied jobs in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and California are suing the companies that turned them away using that argument.
The outcome of these class-action lawsuits has huge implications for American companies, and for the estimated 700,000 immigrants with DACA status who are living in the United States. A verdict in favor of the workers could force businesses to change the way they treat job candidates enrolled in DACA, giving them the same chance to land a job as anyone else. It would also open the door to other groups of authorized workers who are affected by some of these hiring restrictions: refugees, asylum holders, and victims of human trafficking.
By Alexia Fernández Campbell for VOX
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