Governor Signs Illegal Immigrant Bill Into Law

Governor Signs Illegal Immigration Bill into Law

By Christie Bett
The KOLN News (Lincoln), April 8, 2009

Governor Dave Heineman plans to stop illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits.

Governor Heineman signed LB 403 into law Wednesday. The law not only reserves state and local benefits for those who qualify, it also requires public employers to verify the status of their new employees.

'This law is very straightforward. If you are here legally, you are entitled to receive state and local benefits. If you are here illegally, you are not entitled to state and local benefits,' Heineman said.

The bill also requires employers working for the state or local government to verify the status of new employees with the federal E-Verify system, which Senator Russ Karpisek of Wilbur says will help the cause.

'The bill could have been much more strict, but that wasn't the intent of the bill. We just want to protect state taxpayers' money to go the people that are here legally,' Karpisek said.

Senator Brad Ashford says the law will also help thwart discrimination against minorities.

'What we found is one way to address discrimination is to set a standard. And to say that we encourage immigration, legal immigration, but we want to make certain that people that are working are documented,' said Ashford.

Which some say is really a job for the federal government, but Governor Heineman says it's worth the effort.

'Nebraska is taking a small but important step forwards. It's now time for the federal government to come up with a comprehensive solution to the illegal immigration challenge,' said Heineman.

Heineman says the state will provide the federal E-Verify system to employers for free, so they have no excuses for not checking the status of their workers. He also says the system won't be a financial burden on the state as it only costs fifty cents each time it's used.

To read the complete law, click on the link below, then click on 'final reading copy.'