Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) hired the first Illinois DREAMer to receive his papers under the federal Deferred Action program, Mexican immigrant Jose Quintero, for his district office in Chicago.
"It was a surprise and I'm very happy," Quintero, 25, told Efe after he started this month as a full-time employee with a salary and medical benefits in the congressman's office.
"The congressman asked me to help in his office," Quintero said, referring to the tasks he performs, including helping other undocumented immigrants fill out requests for Deferred Action to avoid deportation.
"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," Gutierrez said in a statement.
"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," the lawmaker said.
Quintero, who wants to be an architect, came to the United States with three siblings when he was 6 years old. He grew up and went to school in Chicago, where he received his associate's degree at a community college.
Quintero was the first Illinois resident to obtain a work permit through the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, which is open to immigrants eligible for the DREAM Act.
Gutierrez said he is considering hiring more DREAMers in the future and that he is confident that his colleagues will follow his example.
Quintero joins DREAMer Erika Andiola, an activist who on Wednesday joined the staff of new congresswoman Krysten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat. EFE