New bill would grant drivers’ licenses to young immigrants

Posted By: Jenn Schanz 

It’s something most of us do every morning; get in our car and drive to work.

It’s also a luxury many take for granted, but Alejandra Ayotila. 

“Every morning, I have to leave my house much earlier than needed to catch the bus and make it to class and work on time. At the end of my day I usually have to wait 45 minutes for the bus to come back home,” she says.  

Ayotila isn’t eligible for a drivers’ license; that’s because she’s a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

It’s a policy that started in 2012. 

It temporarily keeps young people, brought here illegally by their parents, from being deported. It’s for those under the age of 31 who came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday.

Then–Governor Dave Heineman decided DACA recipients wouldn’t be eligible for drivers’ licenses.

Nebraska‘s the only state in the country where they’re not.

“Why would we want to limit their ability to work and contribute to our economy and contribute to our communities?” Sen. Jeremy Nordquist asks. 

Wednesday, he proposed legislation to reverse Heineman’s decision.

The Omaha Senator expects to get a lot of support; the bill is already backed by the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association.

I spoke to Sen. David Schnoor, who represents Fremont, a town with a large undocumented population.

He’s on the fence.

“I really have mixed feelings on the issue. I can see both sides. I’m just going to have to talk with some constituents back home,” he says. 

Those in support of the bill say it would improve the state’s public safety by keeping people from driving illegally.

For Alejandra, it’s a chance to take charge of her future.

“I understand that Nebraska is very conservative and I completely respect that. But I think we have to start moving forward now.”