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  • ACLU threatens lawsuit over Heineman's denial of licenses to illegal immigrants

    The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening a lawsuit over Republican Gov. Dave Heineman's refusal to issue driver's licenses to young illegal immigrants who are now eligible for U.S. work permits under a new Obama administration policy.

    “Denying young Americans the ability to drive is unlawful, poor policy and will lead to costly litigation," ACLU Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller said. "While ACLU and other organizations are working to reach a solution with the Heineman administration, the ACLU is seriously considering litigation.”

    November 28, 2012
    By KEVIN O'HANLON / Lincoln Journal Star

    Nebraska, Arizona and Michigan are the only states denying driver's licenses to the work-eligible immigrants. The ACLU and a coalition of civil rights organizations already have sued Arizona over the practice.

    Heineman has said the state will not issue licenses, welfare benefits or any other public assistance to the immigrants unless otherwise required by Nebraska law.

    In June, President Barack Obama signed a memo calling for deferred action for undocumented youths who came to the United States as children. The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allows young immigrants who meet a specific set of criteria to work and temporarily remain in the country without the threat of deportation for a renewable period of two years.

    Heineman's office declined comment, citing the potential litigation. But Heineman said earlier: "They shouldn't be here if they're not here legally. That's the whole problem … When you don't secure the border, have a speedier technological way to legal immigration, and you won't address the issue that we've got 15 million illegal immigrants in the country right now, we end up with these situations."

    Illegal immigration has pitted Heineman against state lawmakers -- including Republican members of the officially nonpartisan Legislature. Last session, Heineman vetoed a measure to extend prenatal care benefits to illegal immigrant women -- even though a child born in Nebraska would be a U.S. citizen.

    Heineman said allowing such prenatal care would place an unfair tax burden on legal Nebraska citizens. Lawmakers overrode the veto, with Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk and others arguing that the need to protect fetuses outweighed Heineman's concern over illegal immigration.

    Miller said the ACLU's concerns go beyond what is required by state and federal law. The ACLU says Heineman's action will hurt the economy.

    “Our office has been working with hundreds of talented young people who want to contribute to the American economy and provide for their families," she said. "This order would impact daily life, such as going to the grocery store, attending church and finding and keeping a job. Issuing licenses will also promote public safety by decreasing the risk of accidents caused by unlicensed drivers and enlarging the pool of insured.”
    This article was originally published in forum thread: ACLU threatens lawsuit over Heineman's denial of licenses to illegal immigrants started by Jean View original post