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A Senate committee is set to consider a bill today to allow individuals brought to the United States illegally as children to obtain nursing licenses.

The legislation passed the House on Monday without dissent. It was referred to the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

House Bill 1552 by Rep. Megan Godfrey, D-Springdale, permits the state Board of Nursing to issue nursing licenses to those in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

That policy, commonly referred to as DACA, allows foreign-born individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the country legally on a renewable, two-year basis while being eligible for work permits.

The state allowed "Dreamers" -- named for the never-passed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act -- to obtain nursing licenses since the policy's creation in 2012, but it ceased doing so in 2017.

The DACA program has been in limbo since President Donald Trump's administration announced plans in 2017 to end the policy. That decision is being challenged in court.

Ten other states have enacted laws to allow DACA recipients to obtain occupational licenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Godfrey, arguing for the bill from the House floor on Monday, pointed to the state's current shortage of nurses, adding that many "Dreamers" affected by the bill call Arkansas home.

"We should do all that we can to recruit and retain nurses here in Arkansas," she said. "DACA nurses in communities all across our state are dedicated, smart, resilient and will serve our state well."

NW News on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: 'Dreamer' nurses get House's OK

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