Undocumented worker bill hits Md. General Assembly

Feb. 23, 2022


Maryland employers, like every other state, are desperate to find workers. And a bill in the Maryland General Assembly might well be a solution to this pressing problem.

“Even in our classrooms, class sizes are getting bigger because we don’t have enough teachers,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D – Montgomery County). “Teacher assistants – we’ve got to have a solution and get people.”

Like many states, undocumented workers cannot get occupational or professional licenses. Teaching, for example, into the workforce.

“There are so many careers that you need licensing for,” said Sen. Kagan, “and so if we waive these citizenship requirements, as 14 other states have done, we can make a big dent in our labor shortfall.”

The Maryland Hospital Association, for instance, said if Sen. Kagan’s bill becomes law, it can help fill 4,000 vacant jobs in the health care field.

“People understand that we need a solution, and we’ve got talented residents right here who are eager to step up,” said Sen. Kagan.

How ironic, Sen. Kagan said, these undocumented workers can enroll in Maryland colleges paying in-state tuition can even enroll in community college for free. But — there’s a “but.”

“It seems really unfair to get them educated, get them prepared and then not allow them to get licensed to get a job,” said Sen. Kagan.

A wide range of professionals and occupations are begging for workers.

Under current law, even Maryland college students on the dean’s list are denied professional and occupational licenses because they are undocumented workers. And among the professions and occupations requiring licenses in Maryland are morticians, teaching assistants, architects, plumbers, locksmiths and midwives.