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Updated tweets on Legislative hearing to create Arizona-style immigration law

March 2, 2011

PhotoSen. Brad Ashford listens to testimony.

Tweets by Courtney Pitts, photo by Kyle Bruggeman

Hassebrook: Rural Nebraska is changing.

Hassebrook: For many of our rural communities, immigrants have helped revitalize the eroding population.

NU Regent Chuck Hassebrook next to testify. LB48 He works for Center of Rural Affairs.

McGill: Why don’t you pay more attention to immigration status? Schmader of OPD: We have few resources.

Todd Schmader from Omaha PD says the police do not currently check immigration status. They usually have no idea when dealing with crimes.

David Brown, immigration attorney, said he’s had cases where ICE has held ppl with “fraudulent” id only to find they were here legally.

Jones: What does an immigrant look like in a country where people are naturalized citizens or ancestors were immigrants?

Dr. Jeanette Jones, social action chair of delta sigma theta is now speaking. LB48 will increase profiling and more sundown towns in NE.

Dr. Jeanette Jones, social action chair of delta sigma theta is now speaking. LB48 will increase profiling and more sundown towns in NE

Lanford: Is there anyway to get reasonable suspicion in LB48 w/o including race or language? Piester: Yes. Race and language not sufficient.

Lanford asks about reasonable suspicion. Piester: It is more than a hunch, but less than probable cause.

Piester: I see no reason to subjugate Nebraska cities and officers to undergo such litigation. These opinions are not of his court, he adds.

Judge David Piester is speaking next. This bill would have to be defended in court. Police officers could be sued he says.

Michael Noland from Fremont talks about the the costs of defending laws like LB48 and the Fremont Ordinance.

James: We need to support victims of crimes despite status. Ppl who have suffered from these acts are not aliens.

James: I’ve had 2 immigrant women who have come forward to ask for help. One was questioned about her immigration status.

James: LB48 will strain the relationship between undocumented people and police. Cites case of a family afraid to cooperate in murder case.

S. A. Mora James, a civil rights attorney in LNK, is speaking opposed to LB48.

Now onto opponents of LB48 in the Nebraska legislature judiciary committee hearing.

Carl Schaffer: When you try to call ICE as a citizen you are put through Homeland Security then FOIA office & told to write a letter.

Barges: I applaud Sen. Janssen for having the guts to do this. Who’s going to stand up for Nebraskans?

Mike Barges is the next speaker. He says the bill mirrors federal law and we all have a stake in illegal immigration.

Kagen: Anchor babies born to illegal immigrants are given permanent residency. They suffer from drug-resistant strains of TB.

The judiciary committee had no questions for Smith. Next speaker is Doug Kagen of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom.

Smith: LB48 will deter illegal immigration in Nebraska. It will protect Nebraska’s jobs and benefits.

Smith: If someone is pulled over and doesn’t speak English that would be a concern. How do they read our signs?

Susan Smith of the Nebraska Advisory Group is now speaking in favor of #LB48.

Freudenburg: The absence of a driver’s license would not be a reasonable suspicion alone.

Freudenburg tells Sen. Landford that the command of the English language would be a consideration for reasonable suspicion

Council: What database exists that would allow a police officer to check the status? E-verify only verifies lawful status.

Harr: Is a lack of identification part of reasonable suspicion? My concern is we’re going to be dragging children in to the police station.

Harr: What happens with a two-year-old or 12-year-old doesn’t have identification? Is being brown reasonable suspicion?

Harr asks Freudenburg, who is an attorney, if he thinks #LB48 is constitutional. He says yes.

Freudenburg: Bruning believes the issue of constitutionality is up in the air. He will defend it if there’s a suit.

John Freudenburg the bureau chief of the attorney general’s office is speaking now

Questioning of Janssen is over. Now hearing from proponents of the bill.

Janssen: The federal government needs to enforce immigration laws. They get paid more than us.

Janssen’s news conference may not starting any time soon. Committee still questioning impact on law forces and reasonable suspicion.

What’s reasonable suspicion? Janssen: Ex. could be an unlicensed vehicle, who knows where they are going, there are too many ppl in the car.

Ashford: What is in the laundry list of reasonable suspicions?

Sen. Brad Ashford: Under your bill if officers suspect someone they pick up for a traffic ticket is undocumented what would the officer do?

Harr: Tell me where it says it will be detained? I’m not trying to play gotcha.

Janssen: If a person is here illegally they will be detained and ICE will be notified. Will be added to the bill if it’s not in there now.

Harr: Points out that #LB48 doesn’t say a suspected illegal immigrant would be detained.

Harr: What happens to witnesses who come forward and there’s reasonable suspicion they’re undocumented?

Harr: If a woman came forward to report sexual assault & didn’t have documents, would she be detained? Janssen not sure.

Sen. Burke Harr is now questioning Sen. Janssen and his bill LB48.

Council: Law enforcement officials know where their financial resource should be going.

Council tells Janssen she’s troubled by Janssen’s statements about law enforcement officials “shirking their duties” b/c they oppose LB48.

Council: ICE focuses and prioritizes deportation efforts on illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes

Council: You (Janssen) do nothing to criminalize behavior of the employers who provide the primary reason ppl enter the country illegally.

Council: All of us are frustrated that the fed govt has failed to enact immigration reform but state doesn’t have authority.

Sen. Brenda Council: Provide me with one example where the gov. has issued sanctions that require the police to engage in racial profiling.

Janssen: The federal government should be paying for this, but we are stuck with the costs

Sen. Colby Coash: Where is our closest federal ICE facility? Janssen said he assumes Omaha. Does anyone know if this is correct?

Janssen says he’s not concerned about economic impact

McGill: Racial profiling does take place. There are people who will leave #Nebraska if (#LB48) passes. It will impact economy.

McGill: Our budget is already tight enough in Lincoln. If my best friend who is a latina is pulled over will she be asked for papers?

Sen. Amanda McGill asks Janssen about the costs of detaining illegal immigrants, cites story about Lincoln Police Chief.

Janssen: “Waiting for congress to act is unrealistic.

Janssen: As of 2006 the U.S. accepts more immigrants than any other nation.

Janssen: “If racial profiling occurs due to #LB48 we would know about it and stop it.

Janssen’s intro: LB48 would prohibit sanctuary cities and peace officers would determine status if reasonable suspicion.

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The cost of deporting Nebraska’s illegal immigrants: more than $500 million

February 28, 2011


Story by Asha Anchan and Rachel Albin, illustration by Kyle Bruggeman

Question: What do 2,000 new Rolls Royces, the Pentagon’s cyber-security investment and deporting all of Nebraska’s illegal immigrants have in common?

Answer: The same price tag—about $500 million.

Currently, about 45,000 undocumented immigrants live in Nebraska, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. And it costs the federal government $12,500 to deport one person, an immigration official recently told a congressional subcommittee.

So the projected total to deport all of Nebraska’s undocumented immigrants is about $562.5 million—or $175.5 million more than the production and marketing costs of the blockbuster “Avatar.”

Some Nebraskans are on board with this theoretical cost, seeing it as a good investment. Others find it outrageous.

Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, who has introduced an Arizona-style immigration bill in the Nebraska Legislature, said he’d be quite willing to write the check because of its long-term benefits.

“If you could give me that option right now, I would exercise that option at ($562.5 million) …” Janssen said at a Feb. 15 press conference.

“When you extrapolate the cost of having somebody here … they come here, they have children, then they become citizens and then we have issues of health care forever, we have education issues, security issues. It is much less expensive, although semi-impossible, to deport everybody that’s here illegally,” Janssen said.

Additionally, Janssen said he fears the “culture of lawlessness” created when illegal immigrants remain in the United States and break federal laws. According to Janssen, this— coupled with the social cost—is well worth the potential investment.

But Charlie Clark, a former Lexington police chief, balked at the figure.

“I wouldn’t be thrilled at all to pay $12,500 for each person to be deported,” said Clark, a police officer for nearly 33 years. “That’s totally unreasonable.”

Jose Soto, a member of the Nebraska Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, had a much different take. He said the cost of deporting Nebraska’s undocumented immigrants wouldn’t stop at $562.5 million—and it also would hurt Nebraska’s economy by taking away workers.

“I think it’s wholly unreasonable that we would spend that amount of money to round up individuals who are, for the most part, contributing positively to our economy and our social life in our communities,” Soto said.

Said Sen. Brad Ashford, chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee: “…The cost is exorbitant, but I don’t think that’s all the cost … I think it’s much more than that.”

Ashford said that figure doesn’t include legal and local law enforcement costs. And even if money wasn’t the issue, there’s a better way to use tax dollars than to “catch 45,000 people.”

“The best use of taxpayer money is to secure the borders so that you don’t get people lured in here,” Ashford said. Instead, the state needs to “prosecute employers who try to entice workers here—that’s the best use of taxpayer money.”

Meanwhile, Jason Thomas knows first-hand about the arduous journey through immigration bureaucracy. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior started his citizenship path when he was about 5 years old and finished it when he became a citizen at 19.

Thomas’ grandparents moved to the U.S. from India in the late 1980s. Once they became citizens in the mid-1990s, they sponsored his family for legal immigration. The family didn’t get to move to the U.S. until 2002, when Thomas was 13. The process was long and expensive, he said, wiping out his parents’ savings.

After jumping through all the legal immigration hoops, Thomas has little sympathy for those who come to the U.S. illegally. Rather than spend $562.5 million deporting Nebraska’s undocumented immigrants, Thomas said he’d prefer putting his tax dollars toward incarceration or other punishment —even if it proves more expensive than deporting them.

“Deporting them, in my eyes, is not a punishment. It’s just sending them back to a country where they came from anyway and it’s not like they’re going to be punished there … They’ll be free in their own country,” said Thomas, a pre-med biology major.

“If I’m going to be paying ($562.5 million), then I want it to be a stricter punishment.”


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Janssen pessimistic about immigration bill

February 16, 2011


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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