Tapping Into DREAMers to Bolster a Workforce

February 19, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

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TAGS: best practices, career development, diversity and inclusion, nace insights, operations, special population, talent acquisition,

Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

DREAMers are undocumented immigrants who came to this country at a young age and have grown up in America.

“They have attended our K-12 schools and colleges and are a part of our communities,” explains Candy Marshall, who leads TheDream.US, a college success and career program for DREAMers.

Marshall explains that DREAMers with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) have renewable two-year employment authorization documents (“work authorizations”) that allow them to legally work.

Still, many businesses and organizations are unclear about their ability to hire DREAMers who have DACA or Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  

“Often,” she says, “employers believe that they will have to ‘sponsor’ these DREAMers—a lengthy process that is expensive. In fact, employers are able to hire a DREAMer just as they would a U.S. citizen. The only difference is that a DREAMer will present an ‘employment authorization document’ instead of a social security card.”

In addition, Marshall says that many employers are surprised to learn that it is actually unlawful to refuse to hire DREAMers who have work authorization and that employers cannot ask about their immigration status.

“DREAMers with DACA are secure in their ability to legally work and renew their work authorizations,” Marshall says.

“As business leaders, we can proactively recruit and hire DREAMers with DACA knowing they are critical to the equitable revitalization of our country.”

Marshall provides key facts about DREAMers that illustrate the impact DREAMers have within the U.S. workforce. There are:

  • More than 450,000 DREAMers attending college.
  • More than 200,000 DACA recipients working alongside their neighbors in essential roles to keep our communities safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • More than 27,000 DACA recipients working in critical healthcare positions on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis
  • 6,000 DACA recipients working in education, including thousands of K-12 teachers.
  • DREAMers in the workforce at more than 75% of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, General Motors, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Walmart, and Wells Fargo

“DACA recipients will also contribute more than $460 billion to the national GDP between 2017 and 2027,” Marshall adds.

“Throughout history, we have seen how immigrants’ contributions have helped our nation grow and innovate. Nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies—including Google, AT&T, and Pfizer—were founded by immigrants or their children.”

She says that DREAMers tend to have qualities employees seek, including an ability to adapt, an eagerness to learn, and a determination to succeed that is borne out of their own stories of perseverance.

“Furthermore,” Marshall notes, “they are often bilingual and bring multicultural perspectives that are critical to our businesses.”

To help organizations recruit and hire DREAMers, TheDream.US has created the “An Employer’s Guide to Hiring Individuals With DACA or TPS”. In addition,Marshall says that organizations can show their commitment to hiring and providing a supportive culture for DREAMers by: 

  • Ensuring career services and college and business HR and hiring managers are informed of the rights of DACA/TPS applicants and employees;
  • Proactively recruiting and hiring DREAMers through websites, social media, and job fairs;
  • Ensuring HR and hiring managers are informed of rights of DACA/TPS applicants and employees;
  • Auditing applicant forms for unintended (and unlawful) disqualifications;
  • Advocating for Congress to pass legislation giving DREAMers the ability to stay and work in the United States;
  • Advocating for DREAMers to have access to in-state tuition, state aid, and professional licenses;
  • Creating a welcoming environment where diversity and inclusivity are appreciated, and hateful or discriminatory treatment or language are not tolerated;
  • Sharing the success you have had with DREAMers in your workforce with your peers and network via LinkedIn and other social media platforms, e-newsletters, and direct outreach; and
  • Offering legal services and funds to help DREAMers renew their DACA status.

“DREAMers want a welcoming environment where they are appreciated and feel safe to share and draw upon their immigrant experience,” Marshall says.

Marshall cites the words of the 143 businesses and associations that filed a pro-DACA Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court case: “Immigrants like DREAMers bring diverse backgrounds and experiences to their workplaces, which bolster their colleagues’ creativity and innovation. . . . [They] have become essential contributors to American companies and the American economy.”

TheDream.US has created the “An Employer’s Guide to Hiring Individuals With DACA or TPS” to help employers recruit and hire DREAMers.