New Jersey Senate Passes Occupational Licenses for Illegal Aliens
By David Jaroslav | FAIR Take | July 2020
Sailing mostly below the radar amid the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey recently passed a bill to allow illegal aliens to get professional and occupational licenses.
Senate Bill (SB) 2455 states, “Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, rule, or regulation, lawful presence in the United States shall not be required to obtain a professional or occupational license provided that the applicant meets all other requirements for licensure.” It also provides the bill will immediately take effect once it is signed by the governor.
The bill, sponsored by Senators Nellie Pou (D-Bergen & Passaic Counties) and Joseph Cryan (D-Union County), was introduced on May 7. It moved with surprising speed given ongoing restrictions and delays due to COVID-19.
On June 25, SB 2455 passed the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 4-0. Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen & Passaic Counties) joined with all of the Democrats to vote in favor of the bill and Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris County) abstained.
The full Senate passed the bill on June 29 by a vote of 26-11 mostly along party lines. Twenty-two Democrats voted in favor of the bill and three Democrats abstained, Sens. Dawn Addiego (D-Burlington County), Nia Gill (D-Essex County) and Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex County). Four Republicans joined the Democrats to support the bill, Sens. Cardinale, Kip Bateman (R-Somerset County), Chris Brown (R-Atlantic County) and Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth County).
Unsurprisingly, open-borders groups commended its passage through the Senate and called for the Assembly and Governor Phil Murphy (D) to quickly enact it into law. If the Assembly does bring it to the floor, it is likely to pass. However, it is unclear whether Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex County) who portrays himself as a patriotic moderate will bring it up for a vote.
Dozens of professions and occupations require licenses under New Jersey law, including accountants, architects, acupuncturists, alcohol and drug counselors, contractors, court reporters, doctors, dentists, engineers, midwives, morticians, nurses, optometrists, plumbers, psychiatrists, and veterinarians.
Additionally, many of these occupations require a criminal background check for licensure. Under this bill, continuously violating our country’s immigration laws would no longer be a reason to deny a professional license to an illegal alien.
Moreover, federal law is plainly designed to preclude illegal aliens from receiving commercial and professional licenses under 8 U.S.C. § 1621. Granting a professional license to illegal aliens frustrates the purpose and objectives of federal immigration law. Illegal aliens have no legal right to remain in the United States and are prohibited from being employed.
Over 1.3 million individuals in New Jersey are unemployed due to the pandemic and the lockdowns. Many more are teetering on the edge. Some still have been unable to collect unemployment benefits even after months of trying. This bill would only open even more doors for illegal aliens to compete with US citizens and legal immigrants for scarce opportunities.