Wednesday, February 28, 2024

New legislation could help DACA kids and improve the state’s job rate

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(WSAW) – Multiple bi-partisan bills have been introduced in the state legislature that would help Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) kids get professional work licenses and pay in-state tuition to attend the Universities of Wisconsin schools.

The Director of the American Hispanic Association in Marathon County Tony Gonzales said nearly 6,000 DACA kids are living in Wisconsin right now. Gonzales spends many of his days speaking with DACA kids and said they want to work, but there are challenges.

“I want to put my hand on my chest because this is my country, but at the same time they’re not accepting me,” said Gonzales.

DACA kids have a list of responsibilities they have to meet to stay in this country.

“Individuals have to maintain a job, they have to graduate from school, continue schooling, they cannot use any federal or state funds. Every two years they have to register and pass a police background check,” said Gonzales.

There are neighboring states that have been allowing DACA kids to get their professional licenses for a while. Gonzales said this doesn’t encourage them to stay in Wisconsin.

“You know, one thing we don’t want to do is train the talent here, send them to Minnesota, you know, we need the workers over here,” said Gonzales.

These bills would increase the employment rate. Right now Gonzales said there are nearly 200,000 job vacancies in Wisconsin that could be filled by DACA kids.

“Get licenses as nurses, as teachers, plumbers, and so on so people can start businesses,” he said. “We can get teachers in our area. We are desperate for bilingual teachers and DACA recipients are an incredible pool of people that can do that.”

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DACA is currently not processing any more applications. To have qualified for DACA, you had to come to the United States before reaching your sixteenth birthday. Another bill, if passed, would give DACA kids a $250 tax credit to pay for their DACA fees.

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