DACA Nursing Students in AR Decide Fate as Program Remains in Limbo

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Nursing students who are part of the DACA program can no longer get their licenses, forcing some to abandon their education in Arkansas.

Dr. Blake Robertson, the president of Northwest Technical Institute, said one of his DACA recipients decided Monday to leave the school and will receive a full refund. The other will wait out the program.

That's the most detailed information we've been able to obtain from any nursing school in the state.

Some do not know which of their students are part of the DACA program because they have to volunteer that information. 

Others will continue to not dismiss any student because of their DACA status, while working with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing to discuss their options. 

Several other nursing students said they have already made up their mind to wait out the program, arguing many of their nursing friends who are also DACA recipients have already received their Arkansas licenses. They also said unless told, the nursing board does not know which students are part of the program.

Some students said their educators even told them to go ahead and take the licensing exam, without telling anyone about their immigration status. 

"There is a complete chaotic situation right now, and it's completely detrimental to our communities," said Mireya Reith, the founding executive director of Arkansas United Community Coalition, when the news broke Friday. "I just can't even emphasize enough the chaos that this would create if the nursing board were to in any way try to figure out who is DACAmented and if there's any DACAmented individuals with licenses because they're filling this huge need for our state."

It's no secret Arkansas has a nursing shortage. Reith said many DACAmented students were recruited to help alleviate it. 

Congress now has five months to come up with a plan to protect all DACA recipients.

The White House released an aggressive list of demands Sunday night that Democrats worry could make a deal nearly impossible to reach. 

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