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Virginia Democrats Will Move to Pass Immigration Bills, Previously Blocked by the GOP

Members of the immigrant community
(January 23, 2019) Members of the immigrant community attend a committee hearing on a bill to allow undocumented residents to obtain a driver's license.  (Photo: Whittney Evans)

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing whether to throw out Obama-era protections for some young undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, Virginia Democrats are moving forward with legislation to benefit the state’s growing immigrant community.

The DACA program was created in 2012 to allow some undocumented immigrants, also called “dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children to remain in the country without fear of deportation.

State Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, said regardless of whether DACA is repealed, she plans to introduce a bill this General Assembly session to extend in-state college tuition to members of the undocumented community.

“We should be encouraging these hardworking students to be successful and to help them be empowered to grow up to be adults who are going to be contributing to our society,” Boysko said.

Boysko as well as State Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon, are also introducing bills to offer qualifying undocumented immigrants the opportunity to obtain a driver’s license.

Surovell says Hispanic voters make up one out of every four of his Northern Virginia constituents. And every year they tell him how crucial a driver’s license is to the undocumented community.

“They all came out and voted this election. They’re looking for change and results,” Surovell said. “And I think we are hoping to deliver them some real results that will substantially improve their quality of life.”

He said the bill would make the roads safer because applicants would have to take a driver’s test and more people would get car insurance.

Both of these bills were introduced last year but didn’t it pass the Republican controlled General Assembly.