Nebraska State Immigration Laws
The intricacies of immigration laws can be daunting and challenging. This is particularly true for immigrants and migrants in Nebraska going through the immigration process. This article offers a comprehensive overview of the immigration laws in Nebraska. Here are the topics in this article:
- Law enforcement and immigration in Nebraska
- Employment checks
- Driver's license/ID requirements
- Public benefits restrictions
- Education checks
- Voting ID rules
- Housing ordinances and immigration
- Related resources
- Hire an immigration lawyer
This article aims to give Nebraskans a better understanding of their rights under immigration law. But, it is essential to remember that people's rights and responsibilities can vary from state to state.
To improve the collaboration between the state and the federal agencies in enforcing immigration laws, ICE implemented Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This section gave ICE the authority to allow state law enforcement agencies to do certain immigration functions. These functions include:
- Identifying and processing the removal of arrested immigrants without legal documentation, particularly those with criminal charges.
- Serving and executing administrative warrants to immigrants.
In Nebraska, Dakota County Sheriff's Office participates in implementing Section 287(g).
The federal government agencies that administer the immigration laws in the country are as follows:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — A federal government agency tasked with ensuring the safety and security of the country from domestic and foreign threats. It oversees border security and immigration enforcement and coordinates emergency response. The DHS and its components also manage different aspects of immigration.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — The USCIS is the part of the DHS that manages and oversees the immigration of people to the United States. It processes visa applications and immigration benefits such as:
- Legal Permanent Residency or green card application
- Helping people become U.S. citizens or naturalization
- Other U.S. visas
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — ICE is a federal agency that is also a part of DHS. It also ensures public safety by enforcing customs, trade, and border control laws. It's also tasked with investigating, detention, and deportation of people who violate immigration laws. This agency also handles matters related to smuggling and human trafficking.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — The bureau is an agency that has a wide range of responsibilities. It works as an intelligence agency and an investigative body. In immigration law, it works with crimes like smuggling of people, human trafficking, and visa fraud.
In Nebraska, DHS requires employers and contractors to use E-Verify. E-Verify checks eligibility for employment in the United States. This became law through Legislative Bill 403 on April 8, 2009, and took effect on Oct. 1, 2009.
The bill also asks employers to check the legal status of applicants seeking public benefits.
Nebraska does not allow immigrants living here illegally to get driver's licenses or Nebraska identification cards. But, the system may allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients to get identification cards.
If you want to apply for a Nebraska driver's license, you need to show the following:
- One document showing your full name and date of birth
- Two documents showing your address in Nebraska
- Proof of your Social Security number
The United States does not extend public benefits to immigrants without proper documentation. They can't use the following benefits:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Regular Medicaid
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Despite this, immigrants may use necessary health care services to protect life and safety. These services include the following:
- Emergency medical benefits
- Short-term emergency disaster relief
- Access to treatment in emergency rooms
Legislative Bill 239 (L.B. 239) passed on April 13, 2006. It touched on the eligibility of undocumented immigrants in Nebraska for education benefits. L.B. 239 allows undocumented students, DACA recipients, and asylees or refugees to access in-state tuition. But, they must meet the following requirements to qualify:
- The student lived with a parent or guardian while attending schools in Nebraska
- The student graduated from a private or public high school in Nebraska or gained a GED from the state
- The student lived in the state for three years before graduating from high school or getting a GED
- The student is registered as an applicant for college in Nebraska
- The student filed an affidavit declaring that they will file for permanent residency at the earliest possible time
Nebraska signed Legislative Bill 514 (L.B. 514) into law on June 1, 2023. The law demands voter identification. The requirement for voter ID will first be used during the statewide primary election on May 14, 2024. Then, every statewide and special election after May 14, 2024, will ask the voters for ID.
Nebraska will release more information about the new Voter ID law in the upcoming months. For more updates, visit the Nebraska Secretary of State's website.
The U.S. Fair Housing Act protects people's rights to fair housing. The act bans discrimination in housing activities such as buying, renting, getting a mortgage, or using housing assistance. So anyone can have access to fair housing regardless of the following:
- National origin
- Familial status
Several groups and nonprofit organizations in Nebraska offer legal assistance to immigrant communities. The following are some of these groups:
- Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline — This creates central contact information for immigrants seeking legal assistance. It collaborates with charities and volunteer groups to give legal aid to immigrants and nonimmigrants.
- Saint Mary's Immigration Program — This is a nonprofit organization recognized by the Department of Justice. It provides various immigration legal services, including adjustment of immigration status, consular processing, visa application, and more.
- University of Nebraska College of Law — It offers an immigration clinic that allows law students to represent clients with different immigration issues.
- Lutheran Family Services (Omaha Office) — It offers various immigration legal services for an affordable rate. It caters to indigent, low-income immigrants.
It is essential for you to know your civil rights, notably your rights under federal immigration laws. There are immigrant legal centers and immigration attorneys that can help you with your case. These legal service providers help immigrants with a wide range of immigration cases. Some of these cases are:
- Processing of U.S. visa
- Acquiring U.S. citizenship or naturalization
- Getting lawful permanent residency or green card application
- Petitioning family members to the U.S.
- Legal representation in immigration court
- Other matters related to immigration law
Immigration attorneys can offer legal advice tailored to your specific situation. We recommend you seek legal help to give you a better understanding of your case.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you get the best results possible.