New Nebraska law addresses child immigration

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A bill signed into law in April, LB 670, went into effect this week. The law addresses some aspects of immigration for children.

Nebraska Senator Bob Krist proposed the legislation.

"LB 670 clarifies to the Nebraska courts that they have the authority to make findings of fact regarding abuse, abandonment and neglect when it comes to cases involving immigrant children," explained Roxana Cortes Reyes, an attorney at the Legal Immigration Center.

If a judge signs off on evidence presented in court that a child meets these conditions, that filing can then move on to a Federal Court, where the child can have a trial to gain status as a Special Immigrant Juvenile.

"Special Immigration Juvenile status, although it's not a permanent solution, it's a type of status that gives them a path to eventually apply for a green card or lawful permanent residence, and then eventually for citizenship," said Reyes.

Krist introduced the legislation in January and said he believes it is a step forward for legal rights of immigrant children.

"It's clear that all we are doing in the state of Nebraska is treating human beings as human beings and allowing them to have a face in the court and a status in the court. We heard two or three really compelling stories about children that were separated from their families because they didn't have that status," said Krist.

Governor Pete Ricketts signed the bill, which passed a vote in April with a margin of 37 to four.

"I think this is something that will help increase some of the accountability with regards to how that coalition on juvenile justice is working and also streamline their operations," said Ricketts.

Senator Robert Clements from Sarpy County opposed the bill but had no comment.