Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) announced the hiring of José M. Quintero as an employee in his District Office on North Avenue in Chicago. Quintero was the first young immigrant in Illinois to receive work authorization via Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the deportation-relief offered by President Obama to immigrants eligible for the DREAM Act. Quintero applied for DACA through the Congressman's office on the first day applications were accepted (Aug. 15, 2012) and received work authorization and his official two-year reprieve from deportation in October.
The Congressman hired Quintero on a temporary basis in December and made him a full-time employee with benefits in January of this year. He will do casework in the Congressman's Chicago office, specializing in helping DACA applicants assemble and fill-out the necessary forms and documents to apply. The Congressman said he plans to hire an additional DACA recipient for his office in Cicero in the coming weeks.
"I am challenging my colleagues to put their money where their mouths are and hire young people who have come forward, applied and received work authorization," Rep. Gutierrez said. "It takes a lot of courage for undocumented immigrants to get their records together, pay their fees, and apply for this program and this is a very small way for a Member of Congress to lead by example and to say I want to help you fully participate in your community by working and contributing."
"José is outstanding and first volunteered to help at DACA workshops we held in Chicago, then we brought him into the office to help and now he is full-time, with health care benefits, and the works," Gutierrez said. "He has a great story to tell that is typical of the DREAMers I have met in Chicago and around the country and he is very serious about public service and giving back to his church and his community. He is a fantastic ambassador for the DACA program, for DREAMers and for immigrant youth in general."
Quintero was born in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico and came to Chicago with his parents at the age of six. He graduated from Benito Juarez Community Academy in Pilsen and received his Associates Degree from Harold Washington College in Chicago. He was the first DACA recipient to be identified in Illinois and one of the first in the nation. He has since been interviewed by numerous local reporters and also told his story on Univision's national network morning news program "Despierta America" in November.
"Thanks to the help of Congressman Luis Gutierrez, I now have my work permit, two year protection from deportation, a Social Security number and state ID," Quintero said. "I am learning so much in his office and have a chance to help other DREAMers apply for DACA. As immigration reform moves to the center of the national agenda this year, I will have a front row seat and I will be helping Congressman Gutierrez and my community every step of the way."
Congressman Gutierrez said he has spoken with other Members of Congress about hiring DACA recipients and he thinks a few offices will soon be doing so. The Congressman is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and was instrumental in advocating for the adoption of the DACA policy by the White House and in advocating for immigration reform and the DREAM Act.