State lawmakers passed legislation to provide driver’s licenses to children of undocumented immigrants in May of 2015, making Nebraska the last state to issue driver’s licenses to DREAMers (those eligiable for Obama’s Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act).
Before LB 623 passed, youth brought to the country illegally were unable to drive in Nebraska legally.
"We just wanted to follow the law and we wanted to have peace of mind that when we drive, there's not going to be that risk of us getting pulled over and get deported or something like that because we don't have that driver's license,” says Armando Becerril.
Since the bill passed, more than 16,000 U.S. Customs and Immigration Services documents have been issued, most of them driver’s licenses.
"Before the bill passed, it was very difficult because you would always leave your home, assuming that you're going to be back, meanwhile, without a license, you don't know if you're going to do that,” says 27-year-old Luis Olivas.
Becerril says having a driver’s license is not only more convenient for him, but it’s a public safety issue.
“Now, authorities can know who we are, we’re insured and we can be listed as organ donors,” says Becerril.
The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles director, Rhonda Lahm says immigrants can apply for driver’s licenses at any of the 95 offices statewide, which so far has been a smooth process for applicants.
"The very next morning, I got my documents gathered up, 8:30 in the morning, I was at the Platt County Courthouse, applying for my driver's license and I was able to get it on the first try,” says Olivas, who was one of the first DREAMers to obtain his driver’s license.
Both Becerril and Olivas say carrying that identification has brought them and their families’ peace of mind.
“My mom and my dad both rest a lot easier knowing that if anything does happen, I have that license and that ID, just like everybody else is entitled to in the state,” says Becerril.
"It's one less thing you have to worry about. You may have to worry about bills, employment, everything else, but this is one less thing that you have to worry about. You don't have to worry about not coming home at the end of your day,” says Olivas.
Lahn says each identification card ranges in price from $9 - $24, depending on which type of card is issued. Revenue from the USCIS cards is revenue going towards the state.