Representative Shelby Maldonado‘s legislation, H7982, was heard in the House Committee on Judiciary late Tuesday evening. The legislation, the first of its kind in the country, is intended to “provide continued employability and drivers licenses to DACA recipients, even those whose status has otherwise expired due to current federal policies.”
With Representatives Arthur Corvese (Democrat, District 55, North Providence), Grace Diaz (Democrat, District 11, Providence), Blake Filippi (Republican, District 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly), and Joseph McNamara (Democrat, District 19, Warwick) as cosponsors, the bill has bipartisan support. The bill will “continue the status quo relating to operator’s and chauffeur’s licenses and limited work authorization to approved recipients under the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This act would also provide that the issuance of a Rhode Island operator’s license shall not confer the right to vote in the state of Rhode Island.”
More than 16 people testified in favor of the legislation, which will grant DACA recipients, known as DREAMers, the ability to keep their driver’s licenses and keep their jobs as Congress and the Donald Trump administration continue to sow confusion around the issue and neglect to take action.
“The current administration has moved to end DACA,” said Maldonado, “leaving so many DACA recipients in immigration limbo… It is not right for our society to leave hundreds of DACA recipients, who have been productive members of our society, to defend themselves.”
Maldonado recognizes that there are some issues with the writing of the bill that need to be addressed and is working on those issues now. The policy established by this legislation is narrowly tailored to DACA recipients.
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The work authorization granted will allow Rhode Island businesses to continue employment of DACA recipients even if DACA is ultimately allowed to lapse.
Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count spoke in favor of the legislation.
Andrew spoke in favor of the legislation.
Rodrigo Pimentel is a DACA recipient speaking in favor of the legislation.
Speaking in favor of the legislation.
Luis Vargas spoke in favor of the legislation.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza spoke in favor of the legislation.
Javier Juarez is a DACA recipient. He spoke in favor of the legislation.
Lilian Calderon, who spent a month in ICE detention, spoke in favor of the legislation.
Raul Figueroa is a community organizer for Fuerza Laboral. He spoke in favor of the legislation.
Randall Rose spoke in favor of the legislation.
Rachel Cullen is a Providence teacher. She spoke in favor of the legislation.
Travis Escobar of United Way Rhode Island spoke in favor of the legislation.
Helen O’Grady, from ACLU People Power, spoke in favor of the legislation.
Andrew Poyant spoke in favor of the legislation.
Steven Brown, executive director the ACLU of Rhode Island, spoke in favor of the legislation.
Rhode Island State Representative Cale Keable (Democrat, District 47, Burrillville, Glocester) wrapped up the testimony on the legislation.
Two people spoke against the legislation:
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