Gov. Phil Murphy today signed legislation (S2455), which prohibits lawful presence in the United States as a qualification to obtain a professional or occupational license, provided that the applicant meets all other requirements for licensure. The bill impacts the roughly 500,000 undocumented residents in New Jersey, who will now be eligible for professional licenses such as nursing, counseling and cosmetology.
“This law sends a simple, powerful message that immigration status can no longer be used as an excuse to discriminate among equally educated, trained, and qualified individuals,” Murphy said. “As we look toward our shared economic future, we must ensure that no one is left behind and everyone who puts forward the effort can succeed.”
Under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), states may grant an individual who is not lawfully present in the United States eligibility for certain State or local public benefits, including professional and commercial licensure, through the enactment of state law.
“Today New Jersey is removing barriers that prevented talented, hardworking individuals from realizing their full potential as vital members of the state’s workforce,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “By welcoming all qualified individuals into our professional ranks, we not only benefit from their contributions to our economy, we are building and strengthening communities across our state.”
“New Jersey’s 53,000 DACA-eligible residents, including nearly 17,000 active DACA status holders, pay more than $100 million in state and local taxes annually,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. “They are risking their and their families’ lives everyday as frontline healthcare workers and in other essential jobs during the pandemic. By eliminating barriers to occupational licenses, we will enable qualified, trained, highly skilled, and hardworking Dreamers to fill critical worker shortages in our state while contributing to the economy and being treated with dignity. New Jersey, whose waters are home to Ellis Island, is celebrated for its diversity and thriving immigrant population. If a DACA student – like several who testified before our committee – aspires to be a teacher, nurse, or physician and takes the MCATs, is admitted to and graduates from medical school, and completes a residency, we would be fools to deprive our communities of their hard-earned skills and talents while facing an unprecedented public health crisis.”
To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.Related Articles: