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Immigrants, Refugee Groups to Lobby State Legislature Today

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Immigrant-rights advocates are pressing for bills that would allow DACA recipients to apply for college financial aid and professional licenses. (Nevada Immigrant Coalition)
Immigrant-rights advocates are pressing for bills that would allow DACA recipients to apply for college financial aid and professional licenses. (Nevada Immigrant Coalition)
 By Suzanne Potter - Producer, Contact
April 15, 2019

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Today is Immigrant and Refugee Lobby Day at the state Legislature - an annual event to push for policies that improve quality of life in these communities.

For example, advocates will be meeting with lawmakers to promote Assembly Bill 275, which would make it possible for people who are here legally but aren't citizens or permanent legal residents to apply for professional licenses. Erika Castro, organizing manager with the Nevada Immigrant Coalition, said this already has been done for teaching certificates and should now spread to other professions, such as social work and health care.

"DACA recipients currently in school for nursing, once they graduate, they won't be able to apply for nursing licenses unless we open this up,” Castro said.

The coalition also is supporting a bill that would ask jails to report on how they handle requests from federal immigration authorities to detain people to make sure everyone gets due process. Another bill would move traffic violations into civil court so people could no longer be locked up for unpaid parking tickets.

Maria Nieto Orta is an undocumented student at the College of Southern Nevada who works with the group Mi Familia Vota. She said she supports AB 155, which makes the Silver State Opportunity Grant more accessible by allowing applicants who are taking at least 12 units, instead of 15.

"A lot of people in low-income communities are not traditional students. It would really benefit because it is so hard to go to school full time and work full time,” Nieto Orta said. “So this scholarship allows students to take 12 credits and focus on work and focus on family too."

Nieto Orta also is fighting for a bill that would allow undocumented students to apply for the state-supported Promise Scholarship.

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