Update on LB63: Senator McCollister makes LB 623 his priority bill

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LINCOLN — A bill that calls for issuing Nebraska driver’s licenses to young immigrants brought to the county illegally as children earned a priority designation Thursday, though it remains stalled in committee. Legislative Bill 623 would allow licenses or identification cards to be issued to young adults who qualify for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Under that 2012 program, created through an executive order by President Barack Obama, qualified recipients can legally work and study in the United States without fear of deportation.

Nebraska is the only state that does not allow such young immigrants, often called “Dreamers,” to obtain driving privileges.

Sen. John McCollister of Omaha designated the bill his priority for the session. But for the bill be debated on the floor, it would first have to advance from the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

The committee voted 2-1 to advance the bill Thursday, with three members abstaining and two absent. The bill would need five votes to advance.

“It’s embarrassing that Nebraska is the only state that doesn’t allow Dreamers to have driver’s licenses,” McCollister said. The bill was introduced by Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist.

The policy to deny the driver’s licenses was ordered by former Gov. Dave Heineman, who argued that state law banned illegal immigrants from obtaining state benefits. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said he supports the policy.

Other categories of deferred action immigrants, such as refugees, can obtain a license in Nebraska. Several young immigrants who have been denied licenses have sued the governor over the policy.

About 2,700 immigrants have received the status in Nebraska, along with nearly 600,000 nationally.

POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015 1:00 AM By Joe Duggan / World-Herald Bureau

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