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Ricketts urges senators to kill immigrant bill
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Ricketts urges senators to kill immigrant bill

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On the eve of a final vote in the Legislature, Gov. Pete Ricketts urged state senators to kill a bill that would allow so-called young DACA immigrants to acquire professional and occupational licenses to work in Nebraska.

Those undocumented immigrants have been granted lawful presence in the United States by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action taken by President Barack Obama.

"The proper process to address the granting of legal status is for the president to work with Congress to address our immigration laws," Ricketts said in a letter sent to all members of the Legislature.

"By circumventing our current immigration process, LB947 undermines the rule of law and is unjust to all the immigrants, permanent residents and naturalized citizens who legally followed the established process," the governor wrote.

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Ricketts said the legislation would also provide access to those licenses for pending asylum seekers and those with pending or approved applications for temporary protected status from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, was advanced to final-stage consideration last week on a voice vote after winning initial 27-7 first-round approval.

If the measure clears its final hurdle on Wednesday, it appears likely to prompt the governor's first veto of the 2016 legislative session. Thirty votes would be required to override a veto.

Mello has argued that the bill is "a workforce issue," pointing to support for its passage voiced by Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, a conservative Republican.

Most of the DACA youth were brought to the United States by their parents illegally when they were young children and most of those affected by LB947 grew up in Nebraska and went to school here.

Last year, Ricketts vetoed a bill to grant Nebraska driver's licenses to DACA youth and the Legislature enacted the bill over his veto. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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