Indiana governor signs bill allowing DACA recipients to obtain professional licenses

Dreamers can seek licenses in more than 70 professions, including nursing and cosmetology.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) speaks on the second day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 19, 2016. (Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) speaks on the second day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 19, 2016. (Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill into law Wednesday to allow recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to obtain licenses in more than 70 professions, such as nursing, architecture, and cosmetology.

The move comes one month after the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA) added questions about citizenship status to all of its professional license applications. As ThinkProgress’ Esther Yu Hsi Lee previously reported, the questions allowed the agency to prohibit the 9,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to Indiana as children — also known as “Dreamers” — from obtaining professional licenses.

The legislation signed on Wednesday would scrap that prohibition, according to the IndyStar.

“I support removing impediments in state law that keep Indiana’s DACA recipients from skilling up and going to work,” Holcomb said in a statement, the IndyStar reported.

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The DACA program, initiated under President Barack Obama in 2012, grants temporary work authorization and deportation relief to more than 800,000 Dreamers nationwide. In September 2017, President Donald Trump announced his plans to roll back the program, phasing out current DACA statuses and ending new applications by March 5, 2018. The move faced legal backlash that resulted in DACA recipients being allowed to renew their applications temporarily — but with the March 5 deadline come and gone, Dreamers are in limbo as they await Congressional action on a permanent solution.  

Democrats in Congress have demanded that a solution be included in the various stopgap spending bills since December, but have been unsuccessful. While permanent protections for Dreamers were a priority during past funding negotiations, the text of the current omnibus spending bill was released Wednesday with little fuss about the fate of undocumented immigrants and fails to include a provision to protect them.