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Nebraska Ends Driver’s License Ban for Dreamers

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In the latest of numerous small battles over the rights and future of the Dreamers, the Nebraska legislature has voted 34-10 to pass legislation granting DACA recipients the opportunity to obtain driver’s licenses.  This new law, LB 623, corrects an unusual situation.  Nebraska was the only state denying DACA recipients the right to obtain a driver’s license or state identification card.

Even though every other state had laws similar to LB 623, the passage of Nebraska’s law was far from certain.  After the law was initially passed by a vote of 34-9, Governor Pete Ricketts used his veto authority to kill the bill.  In Nebraska, it requires 30 or more votes to successfully override a gubernatorial veto.  When the legislature voted the second time, the final tally was 34-10.  The law passed with four votes to spare.

The Governor had vetoed the bill out of concerns over the law’s effects on other undocumented populations.  He believes the law will expand the pool of eligible drivers beyond just the DACA recipients the law is meant to help.  He believes the bill is “wrong on principle.” He also used the opportunity to express his continued frustration with the federal government’s inability to pass meaningful immigration reform.

This legislation is in part a response to Nebraska’s growing Hispanic population.  From the year 2000 to the year 2010, the Hispanic population in Nebraska has grown from 94,425 people to 167,405 people.  Some estimates have Nebraska’s Latino population nearly tripling by 2050.  As the Latino population in the United States continues to grow, even states that were once thought to be far away from these changes are feeling the effects.

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