LINCOLN — The American Civil Liberties Union sued Arizona's governor Thursday over her refusal to issue driver's licenses to young illegal immigrants who grew up in the United States.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has been put on notice that he might be next.
The lawsuit against Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer “is a timely reminder to Gov. Heineman that we could save Nebraska time and money if he reverses his rogue position,” said Amy Miller, legal director for ACLU Nebraska.
Jen Rae Hein, the governor's communications director, referred questions to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Shortly after President Barack Obama started a program last summer allowing young illegal immigrants to temporarily work in the United States, Heineman announced that they would not qualify for driver's licenses in Nebraska.
The governor said he won't allow state benefits for people living here illegally.
The state has since made good on the governor's promise, rejecting several license applications from immigrants who received work status under the federal program.
Nebraska joined Arizona and Michigan in refusing to issue driver's licenses to those who qualify for the program, known as “deferred action for childhood arrivals.”
Representatives from the ACLU and other advocacy groups met earlier in the month with Bev Neth, director of the Motor Vehicles Department, to “reach a solution with the Heineman administration,” Miller said.
They told Neth that Nebraska's policy violates state and federal law because it denies immigrants who have “lawful status.”
Neth disagreed with Miller's characterization of the meeting as an effort to reach a solution.
“We discussed the administration's interpretation of the statutes as they currently exist,” Neth said Thursday. “It was made clear that the (deferred action) group would be denied driver licenses under that interpretation.”
The president has said the program is intended to allow illegal child immigrants brought to the United States by their parents to use their American educations and join the workforce.
Opponents of deferred action argue that the president thwarted the will of Congress, which twice voted down legislation that would have given young immigrants a path to citizenship.
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