LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – Dozens of Arkansas immigrants and allies watched Gov. Asa Hutchinson sign two DACA bills into law Wednesday, April 10.
Watching Gov. Hutchinson sign the bills was emotional for many. House Bill 1552 grants nursing licenses to DACA students and House Bill 1684 grants in-state college tuition to those with DACA and other immigrant visas.
"This bill recognizes the importance of immigrants to our economic vitality, to our communities and to the fabric of American society,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
Aldair Guerrero is covered under DACA and is headed off to college to study nursing next year. He said the in-state tuition is a huge relief for his family.
"Without DACA nurses passing, I would have had to transfer to another state and Arkansas is all I've known. I wanted to stay here and help Arkansans,” Guerrero said.
But despite Wednesday's success, Arkansas United, an immigrant organization, gathered to also ask Gov. Hutchinson to veto Senate Bill 411. The bill bans Arkansas cities that adopt "sanctuary city" policies from receiving state funding. Sanctuary city laws protect undocumented immigrants from deportation or prosecution.
"Not only is it unconstitutional, but it is not Arkansan. And it doesn't align with any of values or anything else we saw in this conference today,” Mireya Reith with Arkansas United said.
Gov. Hutchinson said he generally supports a ban on sanctuary policies and plans to sign the bill. He said he supports it if an amendment is made in a future session that requires probable cause before a law enforcement officer questions someone about immigration status or documents.
Arkansas United said it plans to pursue a lawsuit. But overall, Arkansas immigrants still say Wednesday is a step in the right direction.
"Nothing is going to overshadow the success for today. We're so excited to be here. We're going to celebrate this, go home and let our dreamers know they can go to college at affordable rates and now they can be nurses,” Rosa Velazquez said.