NJ legislation to let DACA recipients obtain professional and occupational licenses

On January 24, 2018, with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on-hand, Attorney General Grewal administered the oath of the NJ Bar to Parthiv Patel, a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Patel was the first “Dreamer” to be admitted to the New Jersey Bar.

Today I stand here with one message: Dreamers are Americans, Patel proclaimed. We are fifth-graders alongside your children in the school play. We are your friends and your colleagues. And we are your doctors and your accountants, and now, in New Jersey, your lawyers.

Once that tiny, incremental step in the direction of amnesty for illegal aliens has been taken, further concessions in the same direction are the most likely sequel. What about all the different types of businesses where staff are required to hold professional or occupational licenses? There are home improvement contractors, new home builders, landscapers, child care centers, limousine companies, restaurants, and many others.

Democrats in New Jersey have not just one, but two answers to that question: Senate Bill S843 and General Assembly Bill A1286. Both of these bills would allow any alien who is authorized to work in the United States — a category that includes DACA recipients — to obtain professional and occupational licenses.

To qualify, an applicant would need to submit a valid Employment Authorization Document Card (Form I-766), and proof of lawful presence in the U.S. that is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.

New Jersey is not the first

Back in January 2017, the National Conference of State Legislatures published a list of all the states that grant professional and occupational licenses to DACA recipients and certain other non-citizens, all of whom are lazily included in the category of “immigrants”.

“Immigrants” are foreign nationals who became U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, a.k.a. green card holders. DACA recipients are illegal aliens.

At the time the NCSL article was published, there were ten such states; each with its unique set of rules defining who is able to apply for a license. Predictably, California is where the most radical legislation became state law.

In California, any individual unlawfully present in the U.S. can apply for a professional license. A person seeking a professional license in California can provide either a Social Security number or an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. So far as non-citizens are concerned, Social Security numbers are only needed by, and therefore only granted to, those authorized to work in the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security. That's why Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers are accepted as a substitute, there.

The legislation

New Jersey Senate bill S843 was pre-filed for introduction in the 2020 session by Nellie Pou, a Democrat from Patterson, NJ, and by Teresa Ruiz, a Democrat from Newark, NJ.

In 2015, Nellie Pou sponsored laws to limit circumstances in which judicial waivers are used to transfer young offenders to the adult court system, or in which juveniles are transferred to adult prisons.

As of February 13, S843 has been reported from the Senate Commerce Committee with amendments, and had its second reading.

General Assembly Bill A1286 was pre-filed for introduction in the 2020 session by Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, from Vorhees, NJ, by Majority Whip Raj Mukherji, from Jersey City, NJ, and by Angela McKnight, who is also from Jersey City. All of those sponsors are Democrats, of course.

Raj Mukherji is a former Deputy Mayor of Jersey City who, two weeks after the September 11 attacks and only a 17-year-old Rutgers sophomore, decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served until 2009.

After its introduction, A1286 was referred to the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not legal advice.