Immigration Protesters Rally at State Capitol


Immigration reform is stalled in Congress, but debate continues even here in Nebraska.

Legislation did not make it through both the US House and Senate before they left Washington, D.C. for a five-week break on Friday.

On Saturday, Nebraska’s Capitol was the site where protesters and counter-protesters rallied for changes they want to see.

“I’m concerned, I’m frustrated, and that’s why I’m here,” says Judy Wolz, an anti-illegal immigration protester from Bellevue.

Wolz joined dozens of others on the State Capitol steps. She says it’s people illegally entering the country that has her calling for reform.

“If you come across the right direction, whether it’s from Mexico, Canada, or some other country, I’m all for it, but just do it the way you are supposed to do it and the fact that our federal government is allowing this and encouraging it, it appears, is just a crime,” says Wolz.

But across the street, other Nebraskans say they want compassion and understanding for those entering the country.

“This is a group of people who are rallying on the side of human rights, rallying on the side of children fleeing violence, we wanted to make sure we sent a welcoming message,” says ACLU Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller.

The influx of child migrants is stirring reform debate, but activists say it’s a complicated political issue with more than just two sides.

“Well it’s hard to separate, admittedly, the issue of the children who are fleeing violence from the larger immigration system, and it does all tie together, but you solve the problem that is right in front of you, and that right now is the well being of these kids,” says Jeff Sheldon of Nebraska Appleseed.

The two sides of the street both agree reform is needed, but they’re looking for different kinds of change.

“We believe the process needs to be made easier and shorter because many, many people are willing to go through the legal process to become new citizens, but it’s incredibly long with wait lists that take five, six, seven, eight years,” says Miller.

But Wolz and people like Marty Brown of Build Nebraska say securing the border needs to happen first.

“The solution needs to secure the border, that’s our thing, we don’t want any two-and-a-half years of Obama and paying for lawyers and all those,” says Brown. "We want to send the people back, we just can't afford it at this time."