Indiana governor signs bill permitting ‘Dreamers’ to obtain professional licenses

Indiana governor signs bill permitting ‘Dreamers’ to obtain professional licenses

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb [official website] on Wednesday signed SB 419 [text, PDF], legislation that permits [JURIST report] immigrants representing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [USCIS backgrounder] program recipients to obtain “professional or occupational” licenses within the state.

Specifically, § 6.5(c) of the bill states: “An individual who is authorized by the federal government to work in the United States is eligible for a professional or occupational license issued by a state agency or political subdivision if the individual meets all the requirements, other than the requirement under 8 USC § 1621(a) [text, PDF] to obtain or renew the professional or occupational license.”

The exempted requirement referred to under § 1621(a) of Title 8 of the US Code denies state or local public benefit to anyone who is not a qualified alien or is a non-immigrant. State or local public benefit is further defined in § 1621(c) as “including professional license, or commercial license provided by an agency of a State or local government or by appropriated funds of a State or local government.”

Thus, § 6.5(c) of SB 419 works to exempt those requirements that would otherwise preclude individuals from obtaining professional licenses because of their status as an unqualified alien or non-immigrant. Since DACA recipients are authorized by the federal government to work in the US [National Immigration Law Center backgrounder], the passage of this bill would now permit DACA recipients residing in Indiana to obtain professional or occupational licenses.

The bill defines professional or occupational licenses as including both unlimited and limited or temporary licenses, permits, certificates or certificates of registration, provisional and probationary licenses, and intern permits.

The issue of professional or occupational licenses for Dreamers became apparent after Indiana’s public licensing agency changed its interpretation of state law and started withholding licenses [LA Times report]. Holcomb, a Republican, expressing support [statement] for “removing impediments in state law that keep Indiana’s DACA recipients from skilling up and going to work,” thanked Indiana lawmakers for “taking swift action to address” the issue.