Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow DACA recipients to get drivers licenses and work permits, even if their federal status expires.
DACA, or deferred action for childhood arrivals, is a program for undocumented residents brought into the U.S. illegally as minors. The program protects recipients from deportation, and allows them to legally work and drive. However, the future of the program is in limbo after the Trump administration announced plans to phase it out. The issue is now winding its way through the U.S. courts.
As a result, two Democratic state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would provide the same benefits to undocumented Rhode Island residents.
Shelby Maldonado, Central Falls Representative, is the lead sponsor of the House version of the bill.
"The intention of the policy is to create a bridge until Congress is able to craft a policy that would secure a DACA recipient and enable those who have not tapped into the program to do so. If the federal courts or Congress is able to craft a policy, then this would essentially phase out," said Maldonado.
The bill would extend state protection only to undocumented residents who have already received DACA status. Maldanado said that’s more than 1,000 people in the state.
"We have a number of DACA recipients in Rhode Island who are part of our community, who don’t know the countries that they came from. This is their home, they live in our neighborhoods and we want to ensure that they feel safe here in Rhode Island," explained Maldonado.
Maldanado said the state policy would phase out if Congress or the courts come up with a plan to extend DACA or a similar policy.