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The Journal Gazette

Friday, March 02, 2018 1:00 am

Furthermore ...

Dreamers likely to get licensing reprieve

Congress, which at this point would probably have trouble settling on a place for lunch, appears congenitally incapable of rescuing the young people known as Dreamers, immigrants brought to this country as minors who have studied and worked under the now-imperiled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The courts have offered a temporary reprieve, but some of the 9,000 Dreamers in Indiana who are waiting for word on their ultimate fate were recently presented with an additional challenge.

As the Indianapolis Star reported earlier this week, the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, which issues licenses for those engaged in more than 70 types of work, is using a new system that allows the agency to identify Dreamers and deny them licenses or renewals.

A 2011 state law forbids the agency to issue licenses to anyone who isn't a citizen or qualified alien. The agency had previously used Social Security numbers to screen out non-citizens, but Dreamers are allowed to have those numbers, so they weren't being flagged.   

A few months ago, the agency added questions about citizenship to all its licensing applications, and Dreamers are now being denied. Employers and would-be employers are being hurt along with well-motivated immigrants who have worked hard to make a brighter future for themselves here.

Fortunately, a solution seems to be at hand. Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, has introduced a bill to provide an exception to Indiana's law for Dreamers who are qualified to work under federal rules. To his credit, Gov. Eric Holcomb recognized the problem and threw his support behind the bill. 

Congress still must resolve the Dreamers' fate, Holcomb noted. But “until they act, Indiana state law should allow DACA recipients to skill up and work here in Indiana.”