Table of Contents

After trade, those interviewed across the political spectrum most frequently cited immigration as the foreign policy issue that mattered most to Nebraska’s economy and middle class. That is not surprising in a state that faces chronic workforce shortages, or as Nebraskans commonly put it, a state that has “more jobs than people.” As such, they sounded a common refrain: the United States needs to adopt a streamlined, pragmatic approach to bringing in more foreigners willing to work the jobs that Nebraskans cannot fill, do not want, or cannot perform. While Ohioans and Coloradans discussed immigration in similar terms, they did not bring it up nearly as frequently or as forcefully as Nebraskans did.

Population loss in rural Nebraska makes the area more dependent on international in-migration to offset workforce shortages and population shrinkage in rural counties. Those interviewed also expressed pride that Lincoln and Omaha hosted high rates of refugees per capita relative to most other U.S. metropolitan areas. That said, they made a distinction between legal and illegal immigration and voiced opposition to the concept of open borders. They also talked openly about some of the cultural challenges that invariably arise as the immigrant and refugee populations in rural counties grow.

Nebraska’s Workforce Shortage

Unemployment rates have declined substantially across seventy-nine of Nebraska’s ninety-three counties during the last five years.1 Currently, the state has a relatively low unemployment rate at 3.1 percent, compared with 3.6 percent nationally. While this is not significantly lower than the rates of many growing U.S. states, many Nebraskans have worried more about the shrinking labor force in their state due to population decline.2 The trend is particularly strong in rural parts of Nebraska, where the shrinking population is driving down the workforce. Population growth is largely concentrated around the urban centers of Lincoln, Omaha, and the tri-cities (Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney). Meanwhile, sixty-three of the state’s eighty nonmetropolitan counties have suffered population decline since 2010, some by over 10 percent.3 The working-age population decline in rural areas is projected to be significantly steeper, exacerbating the concerns about workforce shortages in those areas (see Figure 5).

Workforce Shortages in Rural Communities

Nebraskans confirmed prevailing assumptions that rural, agricultural-based communities were concerned about chronic workforce shortages that have made it all the harder for them to recruit seasonal workers during harvest time on the farms. Rural interviewees noted that they also have lost potential businesses because they have not had available workforce to fill open jobs. For example, the mayor of Columbus stated, “So, workforce is a very, very big item because you’ve got to have them to get the plants off and running. We have lost a couple of expansions, too . . . a couple of local plants because . . . the companies . . . just didn’t see the availability of the workforce.”4

But the workforce shortages that plague Nebraska are more than just a lack of seasonal workers. There is an unmet need for year-round agricultural employees. One of those interviewed stated that “livestock are raised 365 [days a year]. . . . When it comes to pigs, every single day a baby is born, every single day a pig is harvested, and every single day a mom becomes pregnant. So that happens 365 . . . when it comes to livestock, there is no busy time of year or slow time of year. It’s, I guess you could say, it’s always busy.”5

Workforce shortages persist across other parts of the agricultural production complex, such as food processing. For example, Cargill, the biggest supplier of ground beef in the country, employs over 400 Nebraskans at its protein plant in Columbus. In a city of only 23,000 people, it is one of the major manufacturers in the area. Cargill reports that it could employ hundreds more Nebraskans if it could fill more jobs that continually remain vacant at its facilities. Cargill and other industry leaders claim that, even after boosting wages and worker benefits, they still lack the workforce required to boost production and meet growing global demand.6

The hospitality and retail industries also struggle to retain employees. A representative from the North Platte tourism office explained that employees will jump from hotel to hotel, in search of better wages or benefits.7 The owner of a retail store in Lincoln regularly competes with the manufacturing companies in town for entry-level employees. The store has had to offer higher wages to try to fill its positions.8

The fact that businesses are having to raise wages to attract workers in a very tight labor market is a welcome development for those who pursue wage and salary employment. But grocers and farmers who themselves are in the middle-income bracket point out that they are operating with dwindling margins and limited room to absorb much higher labor costs. In any event, they do not believe that wages alone are the main issue. Instead, they contend that native-born Americans, particularly millennials, no longer want to perform many of these jobs, even if they were paid more, preferring to migrate to the cities instead. And considerably higher-paying jobs continue to go unfilled, too. For example, those in the agricultural production complex complained about the lack of refrigeration specialists, a well-paying occupation. Others mentioned the lack of plumbers, electricians, and other trades specialists, who can earn enough from a single job to sustain a household in a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

Those interviewed in more rural communities were especially worried about the shortage of healthcare professionals, who could earn middle-to-upper income salaries.

Those interviewed in more rural communities were especially worried about the shortage of healthcare professionals, who could earn middle-to-upper income salaries. For example, an interviewee from North Platte confirmed that the hospital needed nurses: “The education system has been a little slow to meet workforce demand. I mean, really, you look at the national turnover rate, and I think we need over like fifty [nurses] a year just with us and then we’re the only nursing program in the region . . . and you know, we probably need to be closer to one hundred a year in this region if you look at national trends to meet the demand . . . [but] we’re going to be at forty by 2020 and there’s just not a lot of gusto or ambition to meet that need.”9 Interviewees assessed that a shortfall in qualified nurses had contributed to the recent closure of several nursing homes across rural Nebraska. They also expressed fears about a looming drop in the quality of care for an aging population, if the ratio of patients per nurse at the homes continued to climb.

Another focus group participant in North Platte, an area experiencing population decline, insisted that the problem went far beyond getting workers to fill jobs. He relayed a much deeper and commonly expressed fear: “I don’t want us to be a ghost town.”10 He worried that a precipitous decline in the number of families with school-age children would steadily lead to the closure of schools. In time, “you don’t have enough kids . . . your schools close down and there’s more consolidations,” he forecasted.11

Across all these areas, Nebraskans pointed to immigration as the solution.

Immigration and Refugee Resettlement to Address Workforce Shortages

While Nebraska has been contending with shrinking rural populations and workforce shortages for some time, those interviewed were feeling more anxious about their ability to address the challenge in light of recent restrictions on immigration. Like Nebraska, Colorado has been importing foreign labor to fill lower-paying jobs in the agricultural and hospitality industries. But Colorado is also benefiting from a major influx of educated labor from other U.S. states.12 Nebraska, in contrast, has experienced a net outflow of population to other U.S. states. As such, Nebraska’s dependence on international in-migration is far greater than Colorado’s (see Table 4).

The foreign-born share of Nebraska’s population nearly doubled between 2000 and 2017 from 4.3 to 7.8 percent.13 Approximately 65 percent of the foreign-born population reside in the major urban areas of Douglas and Sarpy Counties (in the Omaha metropolitan area) and Lancaster County (in the Lincoln metropolitan area), whereas the rest reside in smaller communities throughout the state (see Table 5).14

Immigration helps fill current workforce demands throughout Nebraska by way of migrant worker, guest worker, extended worker, and immigration policies. In 2015, the American Immigration Council’s analysis of U.S. census data estimated that immigrants comprised nearly 8 percent (80,474) of Nebraska’s workforce.15 Between 2009 and 2017, the diversity index (the likelihood that two people chosen at random will be of a different race or ethnicity) increased in eighty-three of Nebraska’s ninety-three counties.16

Many farm owners in Nebraska bring in visa workers for harvest. Construction companies also look to bring in temporary workers for construction season.17 In Scottsbluff, Hispanic families immigrated to the area to work in the sugar beet factories and then stayed. The town’s population is now over 30 percent Hispanic.18 A focus group participant in Lincoln conjectured that, in Scottsbluff, there were “fifth-generation Hispanics who have been there since the 1880s . . . they were working on the sugar beets or on the railroads.”19 He therefore believed that “in some ways, some of rural Nebraska is more diverse than Lincoln and Omaha were because of the railroads and agriculture.”20

Overall, as of 2015, the majority of immigrant workers were employed in the manufacturing sector (17,898), followed by construction (9,930), healthcare and social assistance (7,953), and accommodation and food services (7,749).21 In the healthcare industry, the hospital in North Platte, for example, has about fifty nurses from South Korea, fifty nurses from the Caribbean, and many other professional staff from the Philippines. The hospital focuses on assimilating foreign staff into the community to encourage them to make it their home and stay. Foreign staff are important in terms of stabilizing the nursing program in the hospital, which is expected to help fulfill nursing demands and benefit physicians’ services.22

Shrinking rural towns as a whole look to immigrants to revitalize their communities more generally. Residents viewed immigrant families as the path back to population growth and, thus, the way to maintain or regrow their businesses and schools. As a Lincoln businesswoman and longtime resident explained, “Some of these communities would have been dead and ghost towns long ago, if it weren’t for the influx of immigrants helping to provide for them. And I feel really lucky [be]cause, I’ve traveled all around the state and I see places like Lexington and you go downtown and you see the Sudanese stores, and Latino stores in the downtown, and that’s about it. There is not much else going on in these [communities], if it weren’t for the wave of immigrants that have come to our state.”23 In the county where Lincoln is located, Lancaster, the diversity index increased from 24.4 to 31.8 between 2009 and 2017.24

Residents viewed immigrant families as the path back to population growth and, thus, the way to maintain or regrow their businesses and schools.

Many of those mentioning immigration as key to addressing workforce shortages often added refugee resettlement to the mix. The Lincoln business owner recalled, “We have been talking about a workforce shortage for many, many years. We’re just not repopulating our state like we should and need to. Thank goodness that we have been a refugee relocation hub for more than forty years, and we have seen wave after wave of folks come through. I grew up in Lincoln, and I remember as a little kid I had a lot of Cubans in my class. And that was back in the [19]60s. And Vietnamese and the latest batch that we see in our [retail] store is Iraqi Yazidis, Afghans . . . Syrians to a lesser extent. That is something that we are very proud of in our community.”25

Nebraskans have described the recent history of refugee resettlement in their state as waves of new populations, from Vietnam, Iraq, ex-Yugoslavian countries, South Sudan, Sudan, and Thailand (a more complete picture of the history of refugee resettlement in Nebraska is detailed in Box 2).26 The data also back up Nebraskans’ perceptions that they host an unusually high rate of refugees per capita. Nebraska resettled more than three times the number of refugees per capita than the nation did as a whole in 2016 (see Table 6).

Box 2: The History of Refugee Resettlement in Nebraska

A focus group participant in Lincoln with a great deal of experience in refugee resettlement in Nebraska described his recollection of the state’s recent history:

“The refugees came basically in five different waves . . . in the eighties and nineties, we had the Vietnamese . . . who knows . . . 8,000 to 10,000 Vietnamese in the metropolitan area and you drive up down 27th Street, you can see the effect of those [refugees on the] markets and restaurants.

The next large group was the first wave of Iraqis that came after the first [president] George H.W. Bush war in Kuwait. And so a lot of Shiite Muslims from southern Iraq, who were encouraged by the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] to revolt against Saddam Hussein and then we pulled the rug out from under them and so they spent time in refugee camps in Saudi Arabia and then came to the United States. So we had a lot of Iraqis, and now there are three mosques in Lincoln.

[The] next large wave was the ex-Yugoslavian countries: Bosnians, Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, Albanians—people caught up in the civil war in ex-Yugoslavia. That population has actually declined now as things have settled down in that part of the world. Many of them have gone back or are in the process of going back.

Then we have the Sudanese, they were mainly southern Sudanese . . . and then later, a lot of Darfurians. At one time, the Omaha-Lincoln area had the third-largest Sudanese population in the United States behind Houston and Nashville and so we still have significant numbers of Sudanese. Omaha had the largest number of Sudanese vote in [the referendum on] South Sudan’s [independence]. . . . Many of them went back to the South Sudan, but then they got caught up in the civil war and who knows what’s become of them after that.

Then we got large numbers of Kachin from the refugee camps in Thailand. They’re an ethnic minority from Myanmar, who had been living in refugee camps for decades. [Then secretary of state] Condoleezza Rice actually made an agreement with the United Nations to empty out those refugee camps and so the Nebraska resettlement agencies had large numbers of Kachin in both Omaha and Lincoln.

Another unique thing about Lincoln is we have the largest population of Yazidi refugees in North America. So there are approximately somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 Yazidis. About 60 percent were first resettled in Lincoln by refugee resettlement agencies, the other 40 percent are secondary refugees.”

(Focus group conducted by S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, D. Rosenbaum, and J. Walther, Lincoln, July 9, 2019.)

Representatives of voluntary organizations and focus group participants in Lincoln expressed with pride that Nebraska is among the states with the highest rates of refugees per capita.27 In fact, Nebraska had the nation’s highest per capita refugee resettlement rate in the fiscal year 2016.28 From January 2010 to January 2019, the state resettled 8,425 refugees. Over that time span, the top countries of origin for Nebraska-based refugees were Burma/Myanmar (3,755), Bhutan (1,610), and Iraq (1,323).29

Prior to then, Nebraska also settled refugees from many other parts of the world. For example, Omaha now hosts possibly the largest number (an estimated 10,000 or more) of South Sudanese (Nuer) in a single community in the country.30 In the 1980s, approximately 5,500 refugees from Vietnam settled in Nebraska, primarily in Lincoln.31 These figures do not even include secondary refugees who migrate from other locations in the United States to Nebraska—often because of its low cost of living and job opportunities—in addition to family ties. A focus group participant from Lincoln mentioned that, when taking into account secondary resettlement, Lincoln is home to 3,000 to 4,000 Yazidi refugees, which is the most in the nation.32

Several interviewees believed that one of the most important aspects of U.S. foreign policy for Nebraska pertained to refugee resettlement. They expressed deep concerns about the precipitous drop in refugees being admitted to the United States since the Trump administration took office. The Refugee Processing Center, for example, reports that 84,994 refugees were admitted to the United States during fiscal year 2016 versus 30,000 during fiscal year 2019.33

The Call for Immigration Reform

“I . . . think the immigration policies that we have are hurtful. . . . We don’t have enough bodies yet. We turn people away at the borders who would be willing to come to Columbus, Nebraska, and you know, I’m all for [it], I’m not for just opening the gates or opening the border, you know, but certainly bringing in folks that have got the potential to be educated, to assimilate into the culture and become productive citizens. That’s a growth strategy for Nebraska, for Columbus, Nebraska, not what we’re doing right now.” – Interviewee, Columbus34

Given the high demand to import foreign labor in both rural and urban areas, Nebraskans consistently called for immigration reform. Many felt that the current immigration debates did not address the heart of the issue: find a way to get people who want to work into the jobs that need them. For example, one focus group participant asked, “How about we go fix the real problem, which is we’ve got a lot of people in foreign countries who want to be here, who will work harder than anybody in this country, and will fill the voids that we have in manufacturing, the service industry, and professional industries if we would just allow it to happen.”35

The real problem they referred to is the difficult path to obtaining a visa and/or U.S. citizenship. Statewide, almost 3 percent of the population in Nebraska is foreign-born noncitizens from Latin America as of 2017. In Hall County, the figure is over 9 percent. In Platte County, home to the city of Columbus, the figure is 5.4 percent.36 No one refuted the need to do background checks and ensure security, but they felt the current process was more of a hindrance than necessary. For example, North Platte residents complained that the red tape hurts small producers, who cannot afford attorneys to “go through all the hoops” and “paperwork” necessary to get visa workers.37

That said, Nebraskans made a clear distinction between legal and illegal immigration. They did not call for open borders; they insisted on a fair process. From their perspective, a fair process involves increasing legal migration while preventing an influx of unneeded or unscreened people. It is unclear how many undocumented migrants are in Nebraska, though the Pew Research Center estimated there were about 60,000 in the state in 2016.38 There was consistent support among interviewees and focus group participants for providing a pathway to citizenship for those who had been law-abiding contributors to communities for decades. This pathway might include individuals residing in Nebraska with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, at the end of 2018, there were 5,991 DACA youth applications accepted from Nebraska.39 A North Platte resident summed up well what many others conveyed about the importance of following a fair process:

“I have two individuals that work for me, personally, part-time . . . neither of them are residents of the United States, they’re both here on guest worker visas. Hardest working, nicest people I could ever ask for . . . just nothing better. I think there’s a real need for that. Those two individuals went through all of the procedures they needed to come up and get a guest worker visa, and they abide by the timeframes on it. I’ve written on their behalf to have that extended, and I think that’s extremely important, but I think it’s [also] extremely important that we do that right and that we not overburden our work system or our workforce, including those individuals that I’m speaking about with, you know, people, we’ll call them ‘undocumented workers.’”40

From securing the border and sustaining refugee resettlement to increasing legal immigration and providing a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding contributors to the workforce and U.S. society, those interviewed from across the political spectrum appeared to be more or less on the same page. It therefore left many focus group participants to wonder, just as one expressed, “Why aren’t they [politicians in Washington, DC] doing immigration reform? Why are they just talking on the periphery of the issue?”41

Current and Future Challenges Associated With Immigration

While there appeared to be uniform support among those interviewed for securing the border and increasing legal immigration, several of them sounded the alarm about how the laws were being enforced. Others cautioned against rising anti-immigrant sentiments over the last few years and the cultural challenges that lay ahead.

Those in the trucking industry, for instance, were deeply worried that efforts to secure the border were creating costly delays in moving products between the United States and Mexico. One representative of a major trucking company estimated that “what used to take us forty-five minutes to two hours [now takes] six to eight hours. And that’s very costly to not only us as a transportation provider, but ultimately it’s going to cost every one of us as consumers because that price is going to get tacked on. We’re going to raise our price to our customers because we have downtime, detention time.”42

Others raised deeper concerns about what was happening within U.S. borders. Focus group participants reported that recent raids by Immigration Customs and Enforcement officers at large production facilities in Nebraska had fueled resentment and mistrust in several communities and impacted school attendance among children of immigrant families. A teacher in Omaha expressed with dismay that “with the crackdown on illegal immigrants, I’ve had students not show up to school for the first three months because their parents got deported back even though they [the kids] were born here.”43 This sense of fear and anxiety among immigrant communities was rippling across the state, he believed.

During a focus group discussion in Columbus, a longtime resident and representative of the Hispanic community made clear that she had always felt welcome in Nebraska and believed the state to be very inviting of immigrants. She was therefore distressed that, recently, someone had called her a racial slur.44 Other representatives of the Hispanic community echoed the feeling that something had changed in the last few years, especially since Trump took office and has taken to Twitter with what they regarded as anti-immigrant and divisive rhetoric. Upon hearing this, other (white) focus group participants expressed shock and regret that anyone would utter such racial slurs in their community, which they believed remained a very welcoming place for immigrants. Indeed, as the Columbus Public Schools superintendent stressed, “It’s a great advantage to the kids that go to our school, because they’re going with kids who speak . . . twelve or fifteen different dialects of Spanish, [other] kids who speak French, and . . . an influx of Muslim immigrants . . . and I think that sets our kids up for an advantage.”45

In the event that Nebraska continues to rely on immigrants to offset its population decline in rural areas, then those rural counties will become increasingly diverse in their racial and ethnic makeup. For many of those interviewed, such diversity would be a source of strength. Yet others also said it would force some tough discussions about race, culture, and identity that were only just beginning to take place.

Notes

1 Nebraska Department of Labor, “Nebraska Workforce Trends,” August 2019, https://dol.nebraska.gov/webdocs/Resources/Trends/August%202019/Trends%20August%202019.pdf.

2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Region, Division, and State Labor Force Participation Rates,” December 2019, https://www.google.com/url?client=internal-element-cse&cx=013738036195919377644:6ih0hfrgl50&q=https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/lalfprderr.xlsx&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwjAw6GZqsLmAhXshOAKHalPBgcQFjAAegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw0C2NviwuLPlzkzp4VeDDQZ; Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment-Population Ratios 2017–2018,” February 2019, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/srgune.t02.htm.

3 U.S. Census Bureau, “County Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2018, Last Revised June 27, 2019; Health Resources and Services Administration, “List of Rural Counties and Designated Eligible Census Tracts in Metropolitan Counties,” updated December 31, 2018, https://www.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/hrsa/ruralhealth/resources/forhpeligibleareas.pdf; and U.S. Census Bureau, “QuickFacts: Dundy County, Nebraska,” https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/dundycountynebraska,NE/PST045219, accessed February 6, 2020.

4 S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, and T. Abdel-Monem, interview with James Bulkley, mayor, Columbus, July 15, 2019.

5 S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, J. Walther, and D. Rosenbaum, interview with a resident, Columbus, July 15, 2019.

6 Cargill, “A Life-Changing Expansion,” February 14, 2018, https://www.cargill.com/story/a-life-changing-expansion; and Nebraska.gov, “Nebraska Agriculture Trends,” April 22 2019, https://cdn.education.ne.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Nebraska-Ag-Trends-Compilation.pdf.

7 S. Ahmed, A. Gelman, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, interview with Lisa Burke, executive director, Lincoln County Visitor Bureau, North Platte, July 24, 2019.

8 S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, J. Walther, and D. Rosenbaum, interview with a business owner, Lincoln, July 9, 2019.

9 S. Ahmed, A. Gelman, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, interview with a resident, North Platte, July 24, 2019.

10 Focus group conducted by S. Ahmed, A. Gelman, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, North Platte, July 24, 2019.

11 Ibid.

12 Salman Ahmed, Allison Gelman, Wendy Cutler, Rozlyn Engel, David Gordon, Jennifer Harris, Brian Lewandowski, Douglas Lute, Daniel M. Price, Christopher Smart, Jake Sullivan, Ashley J. Tellis, Richard Wobbekind, Tom Wyler, “U.S. Foreign Policy for the Middle Class: Perspectives From Colorado,” November 5, 2019, https://carnegieendowment.org/2019/11/05/u.s.-foreign-policy-for-middle-class-perspectives-from-colorado-pub-80112.

13 Jynnah Radford and Luis Noe-Bustamante, “Facts on U.S. Immigrants, 2017,” Pew Research Center, June 3, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2019/06/03/facts-on-u-s-immigrants-trend-data/.

14 U.S. Census Bureau, “2013–2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates: Place of Birth by Nativity and Citizenship Status,” https://factfinder.census.gov/.

15 American Immigration Council, “Immigrants in Nebraska, Fact Sheet,” 2015, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/immigrants-in-nebraska.

16 Lazaro Gamio, “Where America’s Diversity Is Increasing the Fastest,” Axios, July 4, 2019, https://www.axios.com/where-americas-diversity-is-increasing-the-fastest-ae06eea7-e031-46a2-bb64-c74de85eca77.html.

17 According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification, in 2016, there were 3,755 certified H-1B visa applications (specialty occupations) for Nebraska, 468 H-2B applications (temporary nonagricultural work), and 967 H-2A applications (temporary agricultural work). See U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Foreign Labor Certification, “Nebraska: State Summary, Fiscal Year 2016,” https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/map/2016/NE.pdf.

18 U.S. Census, “Quick Facts: Scottsbluff,” data extracted March 5, 2020, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/scottsbluffcitynebraska,scottsbluffcountynebraska,NE/PST045219.

19 Focus group conducted by T. Abdel-Monem, S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, D. Rosenbaum, and J. Walther, Lincoln, July 9, 2019.

20 Ibid.

21 American Immigration Council, “Immigrants in Nebraska, Fact Sheet,” 2015, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/immigrants-in-nebraska.

22 S. Ahmed, A. Gelman, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, interview with a resident, North Platte, July 24, 2019.

23 S. Ahmed, T. Abdel-Monem, J. O’Donnell, D. Rosenbaum, and J. Walther, interview with a business owner, Lincoln, July 9, 2019.

24 Gamio, “Where America’s Diversity Is Increasing the Fastest.”

25 S. Ahmed, T. Abdel-Monem, J. O’Donnell, D. Rosenbaum, and J. Walther interview with a business owner, Lincoln, July 9, 2019.

26 S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, interview with Sheila Dorsey Vinton, chief executive officer, Asian Community and Cultural Center, Lincoln, July 9, 2019.

27 Donald Kerwin, “The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program—A Return to First Principles: How Refugees Help to Define, Strengthen, and Revitalize the United States,” Journal on Migration and Human Security, August 2, 2018, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2331502418787787.

28 Emily Nohr, “A Welcoming State: Nebraska Led the Nation in Resettling Most Refugees Per Capita in the Last Year,” Omaha World Herald, December 9, 2016, https://www.omaha.com/news/metro/a-welcoming-state-nebraska-led-the-nation-in-resettling-most/article_b84f8b71-d374-5cda-ad33-afa9a923fb54.html.

29 Department of State, Refugee Processing Center, “Refugee Arrivals in Nebraska, 01/01/2010–01/01/2019,” https://ireports.wrapsnet.org/.

30 Steve Liewer. “‘This Community Is Suffering’: In Omaha, South Sudan’s Former Second Lady Joins Prayers Marking Anniversary of Deadly Clash,” Omaha World Herald, July 18, 2017, https://www.omaha.com/news/local/this-community-is-suffering-in-omaha-south-sudan-s-former/article_cd9002d6-1d05-5eab-99ac-2703c7543851.html.

31 City of Lincoln, New Americans Task Force, “History of New Americans Task Force,” https://lincoln.ne.gov/city/natf/history.htm.

32 Focus group conducted by S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, D. Rosenbaum, and J. Walther, Lincoln, July 9, 2019.

33 Refugee Counts: Refugee Processing Center, WRAPS database, https://ireports.wrapsnet.org/.

34 S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, and J. Walther, interview with a resident, Columbus, July 15, 2019.

35 Focus group conducted by S. Ahmed, A. Gelman, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, North Platte, July 24, 2019.

36 U.S. Census Bureau, “Selected Social Characteristics in the Unites States,” 2013–2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_17_5YR_DP02&src=pt.

37 Focus group conducted by S. Ahmed, A. Gelman, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, North Platte, July 24, 2019.

38 Pew Research Center, “U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Population Estimates by State, 2016,” February 5, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/interactives/u-s-unauthorized-immigrants-by-state/.

39 United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Number of I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by Fiscal Year, Quarter, Intake, Biometrics and Case Status FY 2012–2017,” December 31, 2017, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/Immigration%20Forms%20Data/All%20Form%20Types/DACA/daca_performancedata_fy2017_qtr1.pdf.

40 S. Ahmed, A. Gelman, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, interview with county government representative and business owner, Joseph R. Hewgley, North Platte, July 24, 2019.

41 Focus group conducted by S. Ahmed, A. Gelman, J. O’Donnell, E. Thompson, and J. Walther, North Platte, July 24, 2019.

42 S. Ahmed and J. O’Donnell, interview with Lance Dixon, Werner Enterprises; and Craig Stoffel, vice president, Global Logistics, Werner Enterprises, Omaha, August 29, 2019.

43 Focus group conducted by T. Abdel-Monem, S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, D. Rosenbaum, and J. Walther, Omaha, July 10, 2019.

44 Focus group conducted by T. Abdel-Monem, S. Ahmed, J. O’Donnell, D. Rosenbaum, and J. Walther, Columbus, July 15, 2019.

45 J. O’Donnell and T. Abdel-Monem, interview with Troy Loeffoltz, superintendent of Columbus Public Schools, Columbus, July 15, 2019.