10 U.S. states now allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients — also known as “Dreamers” — to receive professional licenses, even though many of these licenses require having a Social Security number.
Some states are allowing Dreamers to apply for any license, while others — such as Florida and Nevada — are only allowing them to apply for specific professions.
Indiana is the most recent state to provide license access to Dreamers. In March of the this year, Republican Governor Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law. The state joined Nebraska in being a conservative state that has enacted laws to help Dreamers.
In 2016, Nebraska enacted a similar law, over the objections of Republican Governor Pete Ricketts, who insisted that the bill was not fair to immigrants who came to the country legally. He was overruled by own his party, which overwhelmingly supported the measure. Ricketts’ veto was overridden by a single vote in the state senate, which caused the numerous Dreamers in the gallery to rise to their feet and applaud. Most of the lawmakers, in turn, applauded back.
The same state, only 7 years earlier, enacted a law that took many public benefits away from undocumented immigrants, including commercial and professional licenses. Dave Heineman, who was the governor at the time, said that the law would make sure that government benefits only went to those who were deserving of them.
A few years after this, Heineman opposed President Obama’s DACA initiative, which allowed children of undocumented immigrants the ability to work and go to school throughout the country. At the same time, the Nebraska legislature tried to pass a law that was similar to the so-called “Show Me Your Papers” law that was enacted in Arizona.
But since then, support for the Dreamers in the state has risen considerably, and not just because of the work of immigrant activists. Business leaders in the state have also supported changes to the state’s immigration policies.