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Pou Introduces Bill to Allow ‘Dreamers’ to Obtain Professional, Occupational Licenses

Senator Nellie Pou, D-Passaic and Bergen, speaks during the caucus meeting before the Senate voting session.

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou to allow so-called “Dreamers” to obtain professional and occupational licenses was introduced today.

“Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as minors by their parents, represent what America is all about – a nation of immigrants,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “While on a state level we cannot fix federal immigration policies so these young people who have never known another country can continue to have legal status and a path to U.S. citizenship, we can and we must on a state level do all we can to allow them to reach their full potentials as productive adults.

“This bill will enable these high-achievers to obtain professional and occupational licenses so they can pursue careers including teaching, becoming doctors and nurses. We all benefit from that. After securing financial aid access in higher education for these students, this is the next step to ensure New Jersey will have a new generation of highly motivated professionals who will contribute their talents to our communities. And these professionals will also generate income that will benefit state coffers. This bill is a win-win for everyone in New Jersey.”

The bill, S-2708, would allow Dreamers, a group of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors, to become eligible to obtain professional and occupational licenses if they met state licensing criteria for the sought license, other than being a U.S. citizen or a documented immigrant.

In January, State Attorney General Gerbir Grewal swore in the first “Dreamer” to become a lawyer in New Jersey. At least 10 states already have enacted laws to allow certain groups of non-citizens to obtain professional and occupational licenses.

And in May, Governor Murphy signed legislation that will enable “Dreamers” to apply for state financial aid if they are attending state colleges and universities.

The bill is expected to be referred to the Senate Commerce Committee for further consideration.