With immigration reform heating up as a primary topic for the upcoming presidential election, it might be fair to say that states are beginning to feel more pressure to develop new policies. That seemed evident this past week, as Nebraska became the final state in the country to pass legislation allowing “Dreamers” to receive driver’s licenses. “Dreamers,” a term developed after President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration came to the forefront of the news a year ago, refers to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and have spent most of their lives here. This legislation should serve as a boon to these individuals residing in Nebraska, as it will enable them to integrate more readily and meaningfully into the workforce, providing a better life.
According to The Latin Post, the bill in question is known as LB 63, and outlines a number of measures for undocumented immigrants in Nebraska. Most predominantly, it grants these individuals the right to receive a driver’s license. Expectedly, the bill requires that any immigrant applying for a driver’s license qualify for one through the normal channels, such as passing a driving test after a requisite period with a learner’s permit. Interestingly enough, the bill had actually passed once before in Nebraska. Multiple sources have reported that the bill first went through the state legislature successfully last week. Before it was able to be put into practice, though, it was canceled by an executive veto from Nebraska Governor Pete Rickett.
The veto that Governor Rickett passed down last week on to the bill did not come as a surprise to many individuals. Rickett is a steadfast Republican and has not been known for flexibility on matters pertaining to immigration reform. Expectedly, though, the state legislature did not take the veto quietly. Following protests from undocumented immigrants and supporters of comprehensive immigration reform alike, Nebraska lawmakers voted to override Rickett’s decision. According to Thinkprogress, support for the bill passing was overwhelming, with the veto ultimately being overridden by a margin of 34-10. Largely, the decision was driven by the notion that undocumented immigrants cannot contribute to the workforce nearly as effectively without a driver’s license. This is an issue of particular importance in Nebraska, where the rural geography means that many people must travel a considerable distance each day from their homes to their places of employment.
Impact and response
Largely, response to the decision has been positive in Nebraska. As the final vote to override Rickett’s veto implies, support for immigration reform is strong and getting stronger in the state, and this move will serve as a benefit to that campaign. While it remains to be seen exactly how the bill will manifest in practice, Nebraska follows behind every other state in America in this decision. As of yet, there haven’t been major consequences in any states that have passed it.