President Obama's Immigration Action Impact In Nebraska

Nov. 21, 2014, 3 a.m. ·


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On Thursday, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration. They include allowing immigrants who've lived illegally in the U.S. for more than five years to avoid being deported if they pass background checks, pay fees, and their children are naturalized citizens or lawful permanent residents.

NET News spoke with Anna Shavers, Cline Williams professor of citizenship law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law, about the president's action.

NET NEWS: What will this mean for the estimated 5 of 11 million illegal immigrants that fall under these qualifications?

PROFESSOR ANNA SHAVERS: “Well, for those of you who are familiar with the DREAM provision, the early executive order that Obama signed, it will mean very much the same thing. They will be allowed to stay here in the United States without fear of facing deportation. They will get a social security number and they will get work authorization. What’s complicated about this is that these approximately five million people that become eligible have their eligibility determined by their attachment to either a U.S. citizen child or a permanent resident child. There will be a lot of people in families who will have different types of situations. Some will qualify and some won’t.”

NET NEWS: Let’s turn to our own state, and perhaps even more specifically the ramifications of this memorandum for service providers. Is there a good chance we’ll see these illegal immigrants have easier access to more services throughout Nebraska?

Anna Shavers is Cline Williams Professor of Citizenship Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law. (Photo courtesy of UNL)

PROFESSOR SHAVERS: “I don’t think so. It’s a little bit complicated when you talk about state provided benefits. Back in 1996, Congress passed a law which severely limited the ability of all immigrants, not just illegal immigrants, to be qualified for certain benefits. That dealt mostly with federal benefits. They gave a lot of authority to states to decide about certain services. Many states have taken the position that people who are not in a lawful status- determined by a number of different factors- won’t qualify. One type of service is a driver’s license, for example. So with the children who have become eligible for the DREAMers benefit, in Nebraska, we’ve said they’re not going to be eligible for a driver’s license. That’s in contrast with another state, for example, like New York, who has said that if you have some authorized status, like work authorization, then not only can you get a driver's license but you can qualify for other state benefits that are provided. Now states like Nebraska are going to now be wrestling with what kind of services, they think, that are funded by the state that the newly qualified individuals are going to be able to get.”

NET NEWS: It’s hard to talk about the effects this will have on Nebraska without taking a direct look at Fremont- specifically the ordinance there that that requires renters to obtain a local license certifying their citizenship. It’s been estimated by some city officials there that a third of the city’s Hispanic residents are undocumented. How might this executive order affect that ordinance?

PROFESSOR SHAVERS: “I think it wasn’t tied to citizenship, it was tied to work authorization. If it’s tied to work authorization as being the eligibility for being able to rent, then these newly qualified people will meet that requirement. They were undocumented before, now they will be receiving, in some sense, a document that says they get a social security number and they get authorization to work. If it’s like the DREAM provision, that means they will be eligible for the work authorization for two years and then it’s renewable. Then they would qualify to be able to rent because they now have this work authorization document. It seems to me it’s going to make eligible to rent in Fremont, where they might have been excluded as of today.”