FRI., FEB 26, 2016 – JFON-NE Legal Director Charles Shane Ellison, testified before the Nebraska Judiciary Committee Feb. 19 to oppose LB 966. He is quoted in this article at Washington Times.com regarding Senator Kitner’s withdrawal of the bill. Ellison testified that LB966 threatens the important work performed by our refugee resettlement agencies and undermines Nebraska’s values of hospitality and compassion.
If you contacted the Judiciary Committee through our website Action Alert you helped stop this proposal motivated by misinformation, unfounded fear and prejudice, as opposed to any legitimate state interest. Thank you!
— Update February 26, 2016 —
FRI., JAN 15, 2016 – JFON-NE strongly opposes LB 966, a bill introduced yesterday by Nebraska State Senator Kintner. The proposal is only a thinly-veiled attempt to end refugee resettlement in Nebraska by making it so prohibitively expensive as to ensure its demise.
Under the terms of the bill, Nebraska Refugee Resettlement Agencies would be forced to obtain liability insurance in the amount of $25 million. Any agency that lacks the finances to purchase such a policy would be fined $1,000 per day multiplied by the total number of refugee served by that agency over the previous five years. Thus, if an agency resettled only 100 refugees a year–a small number by Nebraska standards–that agency would be fined a half a million dollars a day if unable to purchase the insurance required by this proposal.
This scheme is designed to bankrupt Nebraska Refugee Resettlement Agencies as the amount demanded is so high that it cannot possibly be related to any legitimate state interest.
Additionally, the bill is almost certainly unconstitutional. Not only has the Supreme Court explained that federal authorities have occupied the field of immigration law–erecting a bar to virtually all state legislation that attempts to regulate immigration–but this proposal is arguably in direct conflict with provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that express Congress’s intent to not allow for a private cause of action with regard to the enforcement of asylum laws.
Likewise, the proposal explicitly singles out certain nationalities for mistreatment and unequal protection of law. Under the proposal, Resettlement Agencies are compelled by Nebraska through prohibitive fines to decline to resettle individuals from the 34 nations listed in the law. Such treatment violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Lastly, the bill is bad policy. It is premised on misinformation and unfounded fear. Refugees remain the most vetted of any class of immigrant allowed to enter the U.S. The screening methods used by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, CIA, FBI, and the National Center for Counter-terrorism are robust, rigorous, and sophisticated. Punishing non-profit resettlement agencies for political reasons is not responsible governance.
This bill does not represent Nebraska’s values of compassion and hospitality. We urge you to contact your state senator to express your strong opposition to this extreme proposal.
This article was written under the Justice For Our Neighbors – Nebraska name. On January 12, 2018, the organization changed its name to Immigrant Legal Center.