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Bipartisan Backing for Indiana DACA Fix

Bill would undo new strict enforcement of law denying professional licenses to children of illegal immigrants

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Legislators are moving quickly toward reversing a seven-year-old law that's blocking professional licenses for so-called DREAMers.

New procedures at the state agency which oversees licenses for professions from pharmacists to hairdressers put licenses at risk for children of illegal immigrants. There appears to be bipartisan agreement on a bill telling the agency to approve those licenses as long as the federal government considers them legal residents. Washington is still sorting that out, but a court ruling has preserved the DREAMers' legal status for the time being.

New Albany Representative Ed Clere says the Indiana Nursing Association sounded the alarm on the change last month, warning that nursing students approaching graduation -- some with job offers in hand -- were learning they might not be able to get licenses because of a 2011 law the agency began enforcing only recently.

The bill still needs to be vetted in closed-door caucuses, but negotiators for both parties in both chambers say they support the bill. The Senate had scheduled a final vote last week, but sent the bill back to clarify it applies only to licensing, not welfare benefits or anything else.

Governor Holcomb has said the agency is following the law appropriately, but says he too supports efforts to change it.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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