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The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee is considering advancement of LB 623 to the floor of the legislature. Introduced by Senator Jeremy Nordquist and prioritized by Senator John McCollister, LB 623 would bring Nebraska law into harmony with the other 49 states and grant the nearly 3,000 DACA children in the state of Nebraska access to restricted driver’s licenses.
There is much confusion and misrepresentation about who the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals children are and their legal status in the United States and Nebraska. Commonly referred to as “dreamers”, in order to qualify for DACA status an applicant must have come to the US before the age of 16, be younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, be in school or have graduated from high school, or have served in the military. When accepted, DACA status individuals receive a social security number and a two-year renewable work permit.
These are children who are documented. They have social security numbers and pay taxes. They serve in the U.S. military. They are “Nebraskans” for the purpose of tuition at the University of Nebraska. They can have licenses for the practice of medicine and law. They live, study, and work under a work permit requiring renewal every two years.
LB 623 allows individuals who have applied for and received DACA status to apply for a special class of driver’s license to permit them to legally drive and purchase the accompanying liability insurance. That is it. It does not grant them monetary benefits, health benefits, voting rights, or any other aspect of citizenship. Like any documented foreign worker, it allows them to legally drive.
The scope of support for LB 623 is broad across the state, especially in agriculture. The Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Dairy Association, Nebraska Restaurant Association, Nebraska Retail Federation, and National Safety Council of Nebraska are but a few organizations who recognize the importance of the “dreamers” to the future growth of Nebraska agriculture and our economy.
These children represent the most complicated component of the immigration discussion. On the federal level, our immigration system is broken. In the meantime, we have productive, documented, tax-paying young men and women who can die in service to our country, teach our children, heal our family and friends, and obtain licensure for any number of professions–yet we deny them a license to drive. Common sense must prevail above the screaming of political pundits on this issue.
As with any bill, the language of LB 623 can be fluid and I look forward to extensive debate among my colleagues on this issue. As always, I appreciate your input on LB 623 and any issue before the Legislature. To contact my office, please call 402-471-2732 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For daily updates, please follow me on Twitter at @JohnKuehnDVM.
Senator John Kuehn, District 38