College Park Scholars Graduate Assistant Ewaoluwa Obatuase was so instrumental in crafting state legislation to allow qualified immigrants to obtain professional licenses that the Maryland law has been dubbed "Ewa's Bill."
Governor Wes Moore signed Senate Bill 187 into law on May 3, and Obatuase (née Ogundana) M.P.P. ’23 attended the ceremony.
During an internship for a Washington think tank, Obatuase wrote about the workforce barriers that undocumented immigrants experience. In the article, she credited Maryland with helping create pathways for young undocumented immigrants in getting a higher education, but pointed out that the state bars them from obtaining professional licenses. It limits them “from fully benefiting from their higher education credentials,” she wrote. For example, they can't become licensed nurses, accountants, court reporters or educators.
Maryland legislators took note of Obatuase's point and introduced the legislation to remove the barrier of licensing boards requiring social security numbers for qualified immigrants who desire to obtain health occupational licenses.
"My hope is that as this bill being signed was a dream come true for me, that other immigrants who have had their dreams stalled or deferred because they couldn't pursue health professional licenses can finally have their dreams come true too," she said. "I know some remarkable people who have opted out of professional licensure fields because of their immigration status, and so my hope is that with this legislation, they can dream again and pursue the fields they've desired for so long. Although this law only addresses health professional licenses, my hope is that in the coming years it expands to all other licenses so that more qualified immigrants can get into those fields as well too and strengthen Maryland's workforce."
Young undocumented immigrants in Maryland can’t grow up to be whatever they want. This graduate student is trying to change that.
My hope is that in the coming years it expands to all other licenses so that more qualified immigrants can get into those fields as well too and strengthen Maryland's workforce.