Justice for Our Neighbors-Nebraska is exceedingly disappointed by Nebraska Governor Pete Rickett’s decision to oppose LB 947, a bill that would enable lawfully present, work-authorized immigrants – with the requisite education and qualifications – to seek professional or commercial licenses in Nebraska. Contrary to the Governor’s claim, this bill does not give preference to “those here illegally.” His assertion is false for at least two reasons.
First, under the terms of the bill, only immigrants who are considered lawfully present under federal law, who have valid employment authorization, and who fit into one of a few narrowly defined federal categories would be eligible to seek a professional or commercial license. It is simply not the case to claim that unlawfully present immigrants would benefit from this bill.
Second, the bill does not give these lawfully present immigrants any kind of preferential treatment. Rather, immigrants that meet the above requirements and who have the education and skills to obtain a license are simply treated the same as any other qualified applicant.
Additionally, the Governor’s statement illustrates a profound misunderstanding for the current state of the law. His statement suggests that international students would be given a relative disadvantage under this bill. However, again, this statement is just not true. Instead, it is current Nebraska law that prevents work-authorized nonimmigrant visa holders (i.e., such as international students) from obtaining access to the full range of professional or commercial licenses. This is so because Nebraska law limits eligibility to “qualified aliens,” a term that excludes nonimmigrant student visa holders. LB 947 would actually fix this by opening the door to work-authorized international students, a fact which again belies the claim that this bill gives preferential treatment.
Not only is the Governor wrong on many of his assertions, opposing LB 947 makes for bad policy. One significant category of individuals covered by LB 947 are those within the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Economists estimate that these educated youth will, over their lifetimes, produce approximately $1.6 billion in increased tax revenues for the states in which they reside. Nebraska can continue with policies that send these educated youth, and their tax revenues, to other states to practice their professions, or it can encourage them to stay in Nebraska and grow our economy.
Please contact your Senator to let them know you support LB 947!