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Bipartisan bills would allow DACA recipients to get in-state tuition

Source: SJ Objio - UNSPLASH

Bipartisan bills would allow DACA recipients to get in-state tuition

The bipartisan bill package would also allow DACA recipients to apply for professional licenses in Wisconsin, a move that the bill's authors hope will help address the state's workforce shortage.

December 5, 2023 at 02:00 PM UTC

By: Nate Wegehaupt

MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – A package of bipartisan bills would allow DACA recipients to receive in-state tuition at University of Wisconsin Schools and apply for professional licenses through the state. Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients are immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children, and are allowed to stay in the country and earn work authorization.

The bill would also allow DACA recipients to claim a biannual tax credit of $250 to help offset the $495 fee DACA recipients must pay to the federal government every two years.

There are around 5,800 DACA recipients in the state of Wisconsin, and under current law can attend universities but are unable to obtain licenses from the state, such as a nursing license. Because they cannot get a license in Wisconsin, says Representative John Macco (R-Ledgeview) who helped author the bills, many of them are forced to move out of state in order to pursue their chosen career.

Representative Macco says that the bill is vital to addressing the state’s workforce shortage. “It’s time to get out of their way,” Macco says, “and let them get educated and join the workforce.”

In addition to Macco, the bills were authored by Representatives Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D-Milwaukee) and Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay), and Senators Jesse James (R-Altoona) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

Speaking at a press conference introducing the package yesterday, Representative Kitchens called the bills “low-hanging fruit.”

“Everyone knows that the federal immigration policy is broken,” Kitchens says. “There’s nothing we can do about that. But these DACA recipients, that’s something we can do something about.”

Fatima Jimenez Gonzalez is a senior at Marquette University, and a DACA recipient. She says that her dream is to become a middle school teacher in Milwaukee, but under current law, that dream is impossible, because she is unable to obtain a teaching license. 

“It is discouraging to see individuals, including myself, who passionately work toward their goals and exert significant effort to obtain them, only to be denied opportunities due to circumstances that are beyond our control,” Jimenez Gonzalez says.

The bill has not yet been officially introduced in the legislature, but if it is passed by both the Senate and Assembly, it is likely to be signed by Governor Evers. 

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