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Inauguration yields swift action: Joe Biden becomes 46th president and Kamala Harris vice president -- the first woman, African-American, and person of South Indian descent in this role. Harris seats new senators; Biden signs slew of executive actions and gets first Cabinet confirmation through the Senate.

Nebraska's Immigrants Prep for Midterm Elections

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Canvassers are going door to door offering brochures with basic civic information on how to participate in the upcoming midterm elections, set for Nov. 6. (Courtesy Graphic)
Canvassers are going door to door offering brochures with basic civic information on how to participate in the upcoming midterm elections, set for Nov. 6. (Courtesy Graphic)
July 17, 2018

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. – With Nebraska's primaries in the rearview mirror, volunteers with the group, Unity in Action, are setting their sights on mobilizing voters for the upcoming November midterm elections.

Ismael Valadez, the president of the group, says canvassers are working primarily in South Sioux City's immigrant communities to register voters and provide basic information - including deadlines for registering, mail-in or drop off dates for ballots - in hopes of increasing voter turnout and engagement in issues that impact local residents.

"If people don't get engaged, people don't go out to vote in the elections," he says. "Basically what happens is that you're letting somebody else decide your future. You have a say and your vote counts, and potentially you could be the decision maker when it comes to who wins the election."

Valadez points to the Dakota County Sheriff's recent embrace of a program that deputizes local officers as ICE agents as one reason immigrant voters should step up their engagement. Critics of 287(g) say the move undermines trust in law enforcement. Supporters argue people who want to immigrate to the U.S. need to do so legally.

Valadez notes most immigrants do enter the country legally and points to families who recently lost protections when the Trump administration decided to remove Temporary Protected Status for people who fled their homes due to war and threats of violence to their families. He says many people now living in limbo have been in the U.S. for years and have deep ties to their communities.

"Like people say, 'Why didn't you just get in line and get everything fixed?'" he adds. "It's not as simple as that, it's costly and it's time-consuming. It can take more than 15 years, even 20 years, to adjust status for someone."

Nebraska voters will elect three candidates to serve in the U.S. House and one U.S. senator for the seat currently held by incumbent Deb Fischer (R). In addition to the office of governor, a total of 24 out of the Nebraska state Senate's 49 seats are up for election this year. One state Supreme Court justice also is up for retention. Numerous local judges, school boards and municipal offices also will be on the November 6 ballot.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE