Frequently Asked Questions: “Foreign National” Involvement in Electoral Activity.

United We Dream Action is excited to engage in electoral activity this year and greatly values all of its members and supporters enthusiasm for this new activity. There are, however, important restrictions that apply to these activities that do not apply to our other types of educational and advocacy work. We have prepared this FAQ so everyone is aware of these restrictions and we can protect UWDA as well as everyone helping make our mission successful.

UWDA is going to endorse candidates for public office and, in some cases, make independent expenditures to support their campaigns. The campaign, #HereToStay, is our first electoral effort of this kind.

UWDA, of course, is centrally focused on the rights and interests of immigrants to the United States. Federal law prohibits any “foreign national” from directly or indirectly making a contribution, expenditure, donation of money or any other thing of value in connection with a Federal, state or local election. A “foreign national” includes any individual who neither is a citizen of the United States nor is lawfully admitted for permanent residence (has a green card). The following FAQs address some basic questions about foreign national participation in federal, state, and local elections and how that might affect participation in our electoral activities.

Yes; although DACA provides work authorization and temporary relief from deportation, it does not change your status as a foreign national for purposes of these restrictions on electoral activities.
Yes. A foreign national may volunteer their personal services on their personal time, such as canvassing and making phone calls. An individual qualifies as a volunteer so long as they are not compensated by anyone for their work, whether by salary, wages or stipend. Additionally, volunteers may not themselves pay any expenses for themselves or others; this prohibition includes paying expenses such as printing flyers or canvass materials, or renting a car. They may only give their personal time.
No. Federal law prohibits any individual, candidate or political committee from soliciting, accepting, or receiving contributions or donations from foreign nationals in connection with an election.
No. An “expenditure” is broadly defined to mean any purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value, made for the purpose of influencing any election, or any written contract, promise, or agreement to make an expenditure. An “independent expenditure” means an expenditure expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate that is not made in coordination with that candidate. This means that a foreign national may not contribute directly to a candidate, political party or PAC; it also means, for example, that a foreign national may not pay for expenses such as copying costs of literature, rental cars related to a canvass to support a candidate, or supplies for a campaign office.
No. The law is very broadly written to restrict any foreign national involvement in the decision-making, direction or management of federal, state or local covered electoral activities. Therefore, foreign nationals may only volunteer for UWDA to perform campaign tasks that are decided, directed and managed by others.
Yes, but there are limitations. Foreign national staff may not participate in any decision-making regarding the independent expenditures or endorsements and may not direct, control or develop strategy related to the program. Given these broad restrictions and the uncertainty of what they really mean, we have decided to have only staff who are citizens or green cardholders work on this campaign.