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Illegal Immigration Bill Takes Effect Later This Year


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Illegal Immigration Bill Takes Effect Later This Year

By Governor Dave Heineman

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

Nebraska has a new law that will prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving state and local benefits by requiring state and local governments to verify that any person applying for benefits is in the United States legally. It goes into effect on Oct. 1.

Several states have enacted laws to help confront the challenges they face as a result of illegal immigration. Nebraska has crafted a targeted and reasonable response that will ensure that benefits from state and local agencies are preserved for those that truly qualify.

LB 403 requires agencies to check federal databases to verify the legal immigration status of applicants for public benefits. The standard is simple and straight forward. Citizens and those who have taken the time to come to this country legally are entitled to receive benefits. Those who are here illegally are not entitled to state and local benefits.

In applying for public benefits, individuals will be asked to verify that they are either a citizen of the United States or an alien entitled to live and work in the country. If the applicant is an alien, government agencies will verify the immigration status of aliens using a federal web-based program known as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements or SAVE program.

The bill also impacts the private sector by requiring companies that receive contracts for state and local public projects, as well as businesses receiving state tax incentives, to take steps to electronically verify the legal status of newly-hired employees. These companies will be required to access the federal E-Verify database free of charge to verify the status of their new employees.

State and local governments will also have to electronically verify the status of new employees.

LB 403 is targeted to state and local benefits, and does not interfere with basic protections and emergency provisions guaranteed by the federal government. Nebraska's law is focused on state and local benefits and it's important to ensure that benefits are available to help those who are here legally.

I appreciate the support this bill received in the Legislature. I particularly want to thank Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber, who sponsored LB 403 at my request, along with Sen. Mike Gloor from Grand Island who signed on as a co-sponsor. In addition, two state senators from Omaha, Sen. Mike Friend and Sen. Brad Ashford, devoted their time and attention to the issue during the past year. I want to thank them for their support and leadership on this issue.

Nebraska has taken a small but important step forward. It's now time for the federal government to develop a comprehensive solution to the challenges associated with illegal immigration.

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