Senate passes McCaffrey bill that would protect DACA Dreamers in Rhode Island
STATE HOUSE — The Rhode Island Senate today passed legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) that would continue to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors.
In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy to allow young unauthorized immigrants who are low enforcement priorities to remain in the country with temporary lawful status. A person who receives deferred action is considered to be lawfully present and may apply for work authorization. Deferred action is permitted for a renewable period of two years but it does not grant legal immigration status nor a pathway to citizenship. Deferred action under DACA may be terminated if the recipient engages in criminal activity, leaves the country without advanced parole, or if the program is repealed.
An estimated 3,300 individuals in Rhode Island are eligible for the DACA program, but only around 1,200 signed up before the program was terminated. DHS announced that the program was to be phased out over six months, ending March 5, but on Jan. 9, a U.S. district judge ordered that DACA recipients be allowed to continue submitting renewal applications while legislation is pending in Congress.
The legislation (2018-S 2678A) would continue the status quo relating to operator and chauffeur’s licenses to approved recipients under the DACA program. It would also provide that the issuance of a Rhode Island operator's license would not confer the right to vote in the state of Rhode Island.
“DACA recipients have made meaningful contributions to the state’s economy, forming businesses and participating in education,” said Senator McCaffrey. “This legislation will guarantee that state law regarding driver’s licenses and work authorization will continue to apply to them, no matter how federal deliberations on the issue play out.”
According to a poll conducted by WPRI and Roger Williams University, 75 percent of Rhode Island voters support allowing immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children to stay in the country without risk of deportation.
The bill would require the Division of Motor Vehicles to issue driver’s licenses to every qualifying applicant or past recipient of a grant of deferred action.
The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, which has passed similar legislation (2018-H 7982A) introduced by Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls).
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903