Nebraska made headlines this week when the state took a pivotal step toward improving its economy by welcoming skilled undocumented foreign national professionals into their local businesses. The state senate voted to allow residents who were brought to the U.S. without authorization as children to obtain licensure to work in more than 170 job positions that require licenses in Nebraska. These professions include education and health care jobs, and it is estimated that the new law will benefit thousands of workers.
The Support and Opposition to the Bill
What makes the passage of the Nebraska law so groundbreaking is that the senate approved the bill over the veto of Republican Governor Mr. Pete Ricketts. The bill passed with a 31 to 13 vote, and those in favor of the bill’s passage included a number of the senate Republicans. For example, Republican Senator Ms. Kathy Campbell supported the bill, calling it “baffling” to not want to support an increased workforce in the state. Additionally, Republican Senator Les Seiler voiced his support after learning that a number of the undocumented foreign students were receiving a Nebraska education but then moving to Iowa in order to work and put their skills to use in that state’s economy.
The sponsor of the bill, Democrat Senator Heath Mello, stated that the intent of the law is to encourage these residents to stay in Nebraska and contribute to the multiple economic sectors that are hurting for workers, including pharmacists, martial artists, and tattoo artists.
Of course, there was also harsh opposition to the bill from several Republican lawmakers who view the law as rewarding the affected population’s parents for breaking U.S. immigration laws in the past.
Eligibility for the New Law’s Benefits
The benefits of the new law will only apply to those foreign nationals who have already received deferred action pursuant to President Obama’s 2012 executive orders. Thus, those who stand to obtain professional licenses will have been under 31 in 2012, will have continuously lived in the U.S. since 2007, and will be in possession of or working toward a high school degree or higher education. The President’s executive action provides the beneficiaries with a social security number and a work permit that is valid for two years and may be used to seek employment with any company or business in the United States.
Nebraska’s New Immigration Trend
With the passage of this new law, Nebraska has made another step forward in its new trend toward welcoming foreign nationals – undocumented or otherwise. Last year, the state passed a bill (again over the Governor’s veto) to allow the same deferred action beneficiaries to obtain driver’s licenses.
Additionally, this new law received varied and vocal support from multiple religious groups and businesses, as well as the Mayor of Omaha and the Nebraska Cattlemen Association. It would certainly be heartening if Nebraskans’ rising support for undocumented foreign nationals reflected a nationwide trend.
More Blog Posts
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012