I’m writing today to let you know about the negative steps being taken by some states, and to ask you to urge your governor to reject measures that could harm young undocumented immigrants.
Several states are taking immigration enforcement policy into their own hands even as talk of federal-level reform heats up in Washington, D.C.
First, a round-up of some of the good news coming out of the states:
In the wake of the elections and the implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), we’ve seen several states take action to welcome undocumented young people, with in-state college tuition rates or driver’s licenses.
States that have recently taken steps towards welcome:
- Maryland voters approved the Maryland DREAM Act, which grants in-state tuition to certain undocumented Marylanders.
- In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick granted in-state tuition to the state’s DACA recipients.
- California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill granting driver’s licenses to the state’s DACA recipients.
- Nevada state officials confirmed that DACA recipients will be eligible for driver’s licenses.
- Illinois’ State Senate approved driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The bill heads to the House, where it is likely to pass in January.
In total, 14 states now offer in-state tuition to undocumented residents meeting eligibility requirements: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island (policy adopted by the Board of Governors for Higher Education), Texas, Utah, and Washington. In addition, two states, Washington and New Mexico, currently allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, while Utah issues driver’s privilege cards to the undocumented community.
On the downside, other states have taken steps to block immigrants’ opportunities:
- Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has issued an executive order denying drivers’ licenses to DACA recipients. Immigrants’ rights groups last week filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this order.
- Montana voters approved LR-121, a ballot measure that denies essential state services, including enrollment in public universities, to undocumented Montanans.
It’s great to see the progress that has been made in granting in-state tuition and driver’s licenses to DACA recipients, and we all need to urge states to reject unwelcoming measures. I’m especially grateful to local Lutheran leaders, such as Bishop Jessica Crist in Montana and Rev. Sandy Jones in South Carolina, who have courageously advocated for the fair and humane treatment of immigrants. They are just two of many.
Please stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these leaders today. I’d like to ask you to visit the LIRS Action Center now and tell your governor that you support policies that lead to fairness and justice for young undocumented immigrants!