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Janssen pessimistic about immigration bill

February 16, 2011

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Story by Asha Anchan and Paige Cornwell

Sen. Charlie Janssen said Tuesday he believes his Arizona-style immigration bill will die a quick death in the Nebraska Legislature.

In a wide-ranging Capitol press conference, the Fremont senator said he does not think his bill – LB48 – will get enough votes in the eight-member Judiciary Committee to advance to the legislative floor.

“It’s most likely going to get shot down in committee,” said Janssen, referring to the bill which is now scheduled for a March 2 public hearing.

Janssen said his pessimism stems from knowing the ideological perspectives of the committee members. He said a majority of the members view illegal immigration enforcement as a federal issue, leading him to believe LB48 will not receive the five votes necessary to advance.

LB48 would require police, when enforcing other laws, to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally.

“Nebraska doesn’t have the border-state problems of Arizona” and does not need a bill that “would unfairly target legal immigrants,” Sen. Brad Ashford, Judiciary Committee chairman, told the Omaha World-Herald in December.

“If you’re in Scottsbluff checking IDs, you’re going to be checking an awful lot of IDs of Latinos of fifth-generation heritage,” Ashford said. “… I don’t think it’s going to do any good.”

Still, Janssen said he hopes there’s a debate on the bill, because it would benefit Nebraska citizens to see where their senators stand on illegal immigration issues.

“I would love for the Legislature to have a chance to debate this on the floor,” Janssen said. “There’s 49 of us on the floor, and this is an issue we are all asked about … It’s all over the place.”

Despite his predication for LB48, Janssen said he still plans to work on future illegal immigration legislation.

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