Bill allowing DACA recipients to apply for nursing licenses passes Arkansas House, 90-0

Zulually Guerrero’s dream of becoming a nurse blossomed from a place of pain. “She was born with a physical disability that required multiple surgeries and hospital stays when she was a child,” the Arkansas Times reports. “That led her to develop a love [f]or nursing, Guerrero said.” Today the college student is thriving, and thanks to a new bill that passed in the Arkansas House this week, she could be close to her dream career.

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed legislation allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients like Guerrero to apply for nursing licenses. While DACA lets undocumented youth work and drive legally, not all states allow them to apply for certain professional licenses. “In late 2017,” the Arkansas Times continued, “the state nursing board stopped allowing DACA recipients to sit for licensing exams in Arkansas out of concern they may be ineligible.”

The bill’s progress in an overwhelmingly Republican state legislature speaks to the widespread support behind protecting undocumented youth. The bill, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Megan Godfrey, was unanimously passed by a House committee. On the House floor—where Republicans hold 76 out of 100 seats—the bill passed 90-0. The bill is heading to a Senate committee this week.

It’s unclear what the bill’s prospects will be in that chamber, but should it pass, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office has indicated that he would sign it. In the absence of permanent federal protections, states should keep taking steps like this to create the most stable life possible for immigrant youth. “Ever since I graduated high school,” Guerrero continued, “I had a dream of one day working in Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where I spent most of my time.”

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