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Indiana House passes bill to allow DACA recipients to receive professional licenses

The Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would allow those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to receive professional and occupational licenses.

Senate Bill 419, a bill focused on professional and occupational licenses, was amended last week to allow DACA recipients, young people who were brought to the United States as children by their parents, to pursue and receive professional licenses in Indiana. 

The amendment came days after the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency decided to begin screening out those who are not U.S. citizens or qualified aliens who can receive state benefits, which would include DACA recipients. 

The license agency’s decision follows a 2011 Indiana immigration law that requires state agencies to verify a person’s citizenship before they can receive state benefits. 

The bill passed 88-8 in the House and will have to be approved by the Senate before being sent to the governor.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday he wasn’t surprised with how the agency acted.

“I know PLA followed the letter of the law, and they did the exact right thing,” Holcomb said. 

He said lawmakers are working to resolve the situation. Indiana’s facing an unprecedented job gap, and DACA recipients could fill those jobs. He said he considers anyone who is going through the school system in Indiana honorary Hoosiers.

“I don’t want to do anything that pulls the carpet underneath their feet,” he added.

Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, authored the amendment, which passed unanimously out of committee last week. He said the amendment just gives DACA recipients the opportunity to receive a license.

“They already have the ability to work legally if they have that status,” Clere said in Monday’s hearing.

Clere added since offering the amendment, he’s heard positive feedback from people in the workforce. He said it’s good for employers who are struggling to fill their positions. 

Laurel Demkovich

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