— Update April 20, 2016 —
WED., APR 20, 2016 – Legislative Bill 947 overrides Governor’s veto with 31 votes! Please send a note to thank all of the senators who voted yes on the LB 947 override. Do not doubt that your calls and emails make a difference! We won the support of several senators who were unconfirmed going into the final reading.
Here is how our senators voted on the override:
Voting in the affirmative: 31
Baker | Boltz | Campbell | Chambers | Coash | Cook | Crawford | Ebke | Garrett | Gloor | Harr, K. | Hadley | Hansen | Harr, B. | Hilkemann | Howard | Kolowkski | Krist | Lindstrom | McCollister | Mello | Morfeld | Pansing Brooks | Scheer | Schilz | Schumacher | Seiler | Smith | Stinner | Sullivan | Williams
Voting in the negative: 13
Bloomfield | Brasch | Craighead | Davis | Fox | Groene | Kintner | Kuehn | McCoy | Murante | Riepe | Schnoor | Watermeir
Present and abstaining: 5
Friesen | Hughes | Johnson | Kolterman | Larson
Read the new law LB 947
— Update on April 15, 2016 —
FRI., APR 15, 2016 – We at Justice For Our Neighbors – Nebraska are deeply disappointed in Governor Ricketts’ LB 947 veto, a bill which would allow equal opportunity to work-authorized immigrants who have the skills, education, and qualifications to obtain the professional or commercial license needed to practice their profession.
LB 947 is not unjust, nor is it unfair.
It would not give DACA youth, nor any other class of immigrants, any advantages over those currently eligible for a commercial or professional license. The Governor is resorting to desperate arguments that misconstrue the facts. His decision is evidence of an apparent inability to find a well-reasoned, factual, and legally sound argument against LB 947.
For example, the Governor tries to construe LB 947 as covering exclusively or primarily people who have somehow thwarted U.S. immigration law. This is just not the case.
All the categories of individuals covered by this bill must have a lawful presence and a federally-authorized work permit. Indeed, all individuals covered by the bill must have gone through a federally sanctioned process to obtain their work authorization. Governor Ricketts may not like or approve that process, but that does not mean the individuals included within LB 947 are out of compliance with federal law. Congress created a process through which individuals fleeing persecution may apply for asylum within the U.S. After appropriate checks have occurred and the required period of time passed, those individual may obtain employment authorization. That is only the case because Congress has ordained it. See Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) §208(d)(2). Similarly, Congress created the Temporary Protected Status program and set up a process for immigrants to obtain that form of status in conjunction with a work permit. See INA §244. Therefore, it is simply not true to suggest that these immigrants are breaking the law because they are complying with federal laws of which the Governor apparently disapproves.
Likewise, with regard to individuals with deferred action, it is not accurate to say that they are breaking federal law, regulation, or policy to obtain their work permits and lawful presence.
We suspect what Governor Ricketts really means is that he does not like those federal laws, regulations, and policies. Deferred action has existed for more than four decades. It has been explicitly acknowledged by Congress. And, since at least 1981, deferred action has been referenced within federal regulations. See 46 Fed. Reg. 25079-03 (1981); 8 C.F.R. § 274a.12(c)(14). Governor Ricketts may personally disagree with the use of deferred action, but this does not change the fact that it is currently part of valid federal immigration policy. Notwithstanding the Governor’s reference to the upcoming Supreme Court case, it does not pertain to the 2012 DACA program.
Finally, with regard to the two immigrant gentlemen who entered the U.S. on valid nonimmigrant visas – who the Governor errantly cited as examples of the injustice of LB 947 – it should be noted that those gentlemen would have actually benefited by LB 947 by being eligible to pursue their professional licenses sooner with work authorization than they would under current Nebraska law.
So it is not LB 947 that is moving people up in the line, it is current Nebraska law that is holding them back.
Instead of seeking to deprive immigrants equal opportunity by defending current Nebraska law, as Governor Ricketts would have us do, we should let our immigrant neighbors—and our economy—flourish by supporting LB 947.
Don’t fall prey to the Governor’s misinformation. Please let your senator know that you support LB 947 to allow work-authorized immigrants who have the skills, education, and qualifications to obtain the professional or commercial license needed to practice their profession. Find your senator.
Follow the progress of LB 947 on the Nebraska Legislature website.
— Update on March 30, 2016 —
JFON-NE Refutes Governor’s Claims on NE LB 947
WED., MAR 30, 2016 – JFON-NE is exceedingly disappointed by Nebraska Governor Pete Rickett’s decision to oppose LB 947, a bill that would enable lawfully present, work-authorized immigrants – with the requisite education and qualifications – to seek professional or commercial licenses in Nebraska. Contrary to the Governor’s claim, this bill does not give preference to “those here illegally.” His assertion is false for at least two reasons.
First, under the terms of the bill, only immigrants who are considered lawfully present under federal law, who have valid employment authorization, and who fit into one of a few narrowly defined federal categories would be eligible to seek a professional or commercial license. It is simply not the case to claim that unlawfully present immigrants would benefit from this bill.
Second, the bill does not give these lawfully present immigrants any kind of preferential treatment. Rather, immigrants that meet the above requirements and who have the education and skills to obtain a license are simply treated the same as any other qualified applicant.
Additionally, the Governor’s statement illustrates a profound misunderstanding for the current state of the law. His statement suggests that international students would be given a relative disadvantage under this bill. However, again, this statement is just not true. Instead, it is current Nebraska law that prevents work-authorized nonimmigrant visa holders (i.e., such as international students) from obtaining access to the full range of professional or commercial licenses. This is so because Nebraska law limits eligibility to “qualified aliens,” a term that excludes nonimmigrant student visa holders. LB 947 would actually fix this by opening the door to work-authorized international students, a fact which again belies the claim that this bill gives preferential treatment.
Not only is the Governor wrong on many of his assertions, opposing LB 947 makes for bad policy. One significant category of individuals covered by LB 947 are those within the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Economists estimate that these educated youth will, over their lifetimes, produce approximately $1.6 billion in increased tax revenues for the states in which they reside. Nebraska can continue with policies that send these educated youth, and their tax revenues, to other states to practice their professions, or it can encourage them to stay in Nebraska and grow our economy.
Please contact your Senator to let them know you support LB 947!
This article was written under the Justice For Our Neighbors – Nebraska name. On January 11, 2018, the organization changed its name to Immigrant Legal Center.