A day after overturning Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of a bill ending the death penalty in the state, the Nebraska Legislature voted to override his veto on a different bill to provide driver licenses to the children of undocumented immigrants. In a 34-10 vote--four more than needed to override the veto--Nebraska lawmakers passed Legislative Bill 623 to place the state fully in line with President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that offers a two-year work permit and exemption from deportation to immigrants who illegally entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday.
By removing the ban on driver licenses for young illegal immigrants, Nebraska lawmakers have challenged Ricketts, as well as the state's strong conservative reputation. Nebraska was the only state banning driver licenses for the Obama program recipients, commonly referred to as DREAMers after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM).
The driver license bill had support from prominent agricultural, business and religious groups, as well as Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. A similar ban against driving privileges for the children of undocumented immigrants passed in Arizona but was later blocked by a federal appeals court.
Ricketts said the Nebraska "bill is wrong on principle, and the bill is overly broad." Ricketts' predecessor, Dave Heineman, approved the policy of banning licenses in 2012. The initial bill to end the policy passed 34-9. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska had been challenging the policy in court.
"It's unfortunate that Gov. Ricketts has decided to try to score cheap political points by attacking bright young immigrants with a legal presence in our country," said the bill's sponsor, Jeremy Norquist.