It’s dismaying that Gov. Pete Ricketts has targeted a bill that would allow young immigrants in Nebraska to get professional and occupational licenses to work in Nebraska.
His position is anti-business, not to mention mean-spirited.
The governor has taken aim at the bill in a weekly column. His disapproval has been conveyed directly to state senators.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, would apply to young immigrants brought here as children and given lawful status in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals implemented by President Barack Obama.
In his column, Ricketts said the bill would “reward illegal immigration.”
In reality the bill would reward the hard work required to become nurses, electricians, engineers and so on.
It would reward exactly the sort of ambitious young people that Nebraska needs to grow its economy. It would reward precisely the kind of people that employers search for desperately a state that consistently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.
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To be eligible for DACA, young immigrants must have been brought to the United States before turning 16. They must have lived in the United States since 2007. In short, they arrived here as kids just doing what their parents told them. In many cases Nebraska is their only real home.
With lawful status in America, DACA youth, sometimes called Dreamers, can study at Nebraska colleges. It’s a credit to private donors that endowments have been set up at Nebraska colleges and universities to provide scholarships to Dreamers. Some of them graduate from Nebraska high schools near the top of their class.
But under current Nebraska policy, they will have to leave Nebraska to work in their chosen professions.
“That’s the most insane thing I’ve heard of,” as Sen. Les Seiler of Hastings so aptly put it.
Earlier this month the bill, LB947, was given 27-7 first-round approval. Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln made it his priority bill.
The governor’s opposition means that it faces a more difficult path to become law. The governor’s intransigence on the issue signals a veto, which means 30 votes would be needed for an override. It would take 33 votes to break a filibuster.
The situation is much the same as last year, when senators had to override Rickett’s veto of a bill that finally made Nebraska the last state in the union to allow Dreamers to get driver’s licenses.
State senators apparently will have to do it again this year.
And they should. To do otherwise would be insane.