Citizenship Requirement No Longer an Obstacle for Immigrants Seeking Plumbers Licenses in Illinois

(April 9, 2020) — During a presidential administration that has seemingly provided lots of bad news for “Dreamers” — those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — a breath of fresh air has been reached in Illinois. A DACA recipient, “Jose,” was initially prevented from receiving his plumber’s license in Illinois simply because he was not a citizen. However, the Immigration Law Office of Moises L. Barraza fought on Jose’s behalf, advocating for lawmakers to change the law. We are proud to report that Illinois has now removed the citizenship requirement that excluded Jose and many other immigrants with valid work authorization from receiving certain professional licenses in Illinois.

“My DACA client Jose was denied his plumber’s license twice because he was not a U.S. citizen.” said Moises Barraza, Immigration Attorney. “However, Jose fulfilled all the qualifications to serve our Illinois community as a plumber. Adding a requirement that he be a citizen had nothing to do with his expertise in fixing a pipe or a toilet.”

Attorney Barraza’s client, Jose, has had valid work authorization through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for several years. Jose worked as a plumber’s apprentice for four years; however, when he applied for his own plumber’s license, he was denied twice based on the requirement that he be a U.S. citizen or pursuing citizenship.

“It was very frustrating that I could not get my license to work as a plumber, even though I had already worked as a plumber’s apprentice and fulfilled all the requirements of the plumbing profession,” stated Jose. “I am so happy that the law has changed, and I have finally been able to get my plumbing license. This is a life changer for me.”

Attorney Barraza’s firm, The Immigration Law Office of Moises L. Barraza, LLC, advocated alongside the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund “MALDEF” to speak with lawmakers and provide legal reasons why the discriminatory citizenship requirement should be removed.

“Citizenship does not determine whether or not an individual is qualified to practice his trade,” added Attorney Moises Barraza. “The passage of SB 1166 to change the law in Illinois is a victory for all immigrants, and we are proud of our work to help immigrants with work authorization be allowed to receive professional licenses in Illinois.”

Read the letter from the Immigration Law Office of Moises L. Barraza and the Center for Constitutional Litigation, challenging the Illinois statute requiring citizenship here.

Additional Information:

About Senate Bill 1166

According to the synopsis for the bill, SB 1166 “Amends the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois. Provides that, except as otherwise provided by law, no department shall deny an occupational or professional license based solely on the applicant’s citizenship status or immigration status.” (From SB1166 Synopsis, accessed here http://ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?GA=101&SessionID=108&DocTypeID=SB&DocNum=1166)

About the Immigration Law Office of Moises L. Barraza, LLC:

The Immigration Law Office of Moises L. Barraza provides high-quality and personalized legal immigration services, including green cards, citizenship, and deportation defense, and many more. It serves individuals and families in the greater Aurora area, winning many difficult cases. www.barraza-law.com.

About Attorney Moises L. Barraza

Attorney Barraza’s commitment to serving immigrants, especially families, developed when he was a child, experiencing the hard work that his parents had to invest to immigrate from Mexico to America. He is fully bilingual in English and Spanish and has received numerous awards, including The National Advocates’ Top 40 Under 40, the American Institute of Legal Counsel’s “10 Best” Immigration Attorneys for Illinois, and The Expert Network’s Lawyer Designation in the Top 3% Nationally.


Founded in 1968, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Their commitment is to protect and defend the rights of all Latinos living in the United States and the constitutional rights of all Americans. www.maldef.org

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