Creighton Forum Highlights Immigrants’ Struggles

*Written for The Daily Record: https://www.omahadailyrecord.com/content/creighton-forum-highlights-immigrants’-struggles

The uncertainty regarding the status of immigrants and asylum seekers at the federal level has resulted in accusations of confusion and indecision by state officials charged with renewing driver’s licenses.

A recent conversation hosted by the Creighton University School of Law sought to explore the impact of shifting federal policy for persons with Temporary Protected Status, a federal program that grants temporary legal status to certain foreign nationals from countries where it would be unsafe to return.

The office of U.S. Rep. Don Bacon hosted a conversation on driver’s license and identification renewals for individuals with TPS with several Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles employees on Sept. 20 at the law school. The forum sought to answer questions about the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, or SAVE, which seeks to prevent people from losing their identification.

Rick McFayden, associate dean for student affairs and administration at Creighton Law, introduced the discussion along with first-year law student César Magaña Linares, who served as an interpreter.

“We appreciate being able to be of assistance and be a platform for this conversation,” McFadden said.

Luis Guzman, a constituent liaison from Bacon’s office, gave an overview of SAVE, which uses a three-step verification process to determine a person’s immigration status, including their eligibility for TPS benefits.

SAVE is administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, part of the federal Department of Homeland Security. USCIS handles the administration of immigration and naturalization for DHS, while Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) handles investigations and deportations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) protects the nation’s borders and oversees ports of entry.

At the forum, DMV employees and community members with TPS discussed how the multiple steps of the verification process at a federal level that can result in months of waiting – often up to a year.

The system also has resulted in some people with TPS saying they can’t access their benefits.

Several attendees of the forum, for example, said they brought all their required documents to renew, but they were not granted their licenses. One person said they were denied a license despite documentation from her attorney showing it should have been approved.

Another person with TPS said that a police officer won’t care if they have sought a driver’s license and have a right to obtain a driver’s license. If they’re found without one while operating a motor vehicle, even if it’s to work or school, they will face a citation.

“The person that’s affected by that ticket – that impacts their ability to seek other immigration benefits in the future,” the attendee said.

Matt Giesler, a DMV examiner who handles TPS cases, apologized to the immigrant for his negative experience. “We are training our examiners as quickly as possible,” Giesler said.

Giesler said the SAVE program is relatively simple, despite the problems some have encountered. The noncitizen has to present an employment authorization document, valid foreign passport or other immigration document. However, Giesler said he would pass on the concerns brought up during the Creighton forum to appropriate supervisors at the state agency.

Adam Eakin, a project and information manager at the DMV, encouraged applicants who do encounter a problem to ask for a supervisor to review such cases so that all TPS recipients and other protected groups receive their documents in a timely manner.

“Please do not hesitate to bring this to our attention,” Eakin said.

Eakin said the DMV will continue to follow current federal regulations while legislation is crafted at the federal level regarding which countries continue to qualify for TPS.

From El Salvador alone, 3,000 TPS recipients in Nebraska are currently in jeopardy of losing their benefits. Other countries currently qualifying for TPS include Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, according to USCIS.

McFayden said he hopes the strong turnout and enthusiasm at the forum indicates that the discussion will make a difference.

“Creighton looks forward to being a conduit for information from state organizations to the constituents that they are serving,” McFayden said.

Doctor Putting the ‘Vision’ in Visionary

*Written for The Omaha Daily Record, 10/17/2019

Using top of the line technology and cutting-edge methodologies, Dr. Lance Kugler is changing the face of vision correction in the Omaha metro area by focusing not only on delivering life-changing vision results, but also on world-class customer service.

Most people know about laser eye surgery, known as LASIK, but there are seven different types of vision correction and restoration procedures. Kugler Vision is the only practice in Nebraska to offer all of them.

As a result of their dedication to patient care and stellar success in their field, Kugler Vision was named the recipient of the Small Business of the Month Award by the Greater Omaha Chamber.

Kugler Vision’s specialization in a variety of procedures allows each patient to be matched to the best procedure for their unique needs at any stage of life, so that they may live their lives to the fullest without the need of glasses or contact lenses.

Because the eyes can be affected so drastically by lifestyle, Kugler said it’s a “really critical time” in history for eyesight. With so many new cases of nearsightedness being diagnosed, humankind is near the verge of an epidemic. This is caused, according to Dr. Kugler, “due to screens and kids spending a good part of their time indoors,” which he says tends to worsen near-sightedness.

Proper contact lens care is another important issue.

“The No. 1 reason an adolescent is in the emergency room is because of a contact-related eye injury,” Kugler said.

With teens and young adults neglecting to replace or thoroughly clean their lenses, a multitude of health issues can arise, causing severe long-term damage.

Once the eyes have fully finished developing between the ages of 18 and 21, Kugler Vision can assess and treat nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism with techniques such as the Modern LASIK treatment. Those who are not LASIK candidates generally qualify for another procedure- like the ICL permanent contact lens procedure, PRK or SMILE vision correction. For those dealing with age-related near vision loss or blended vision, Corneal Inlay or Refractive Lens Exchange can reduce or eliminate the need for readers or bifocals.

As the price of glasses and contact lenses continues to increase, the cost-effectiveness of vision correction improves. Vision correction “pays for itself” after about five years, given the cycle of purchasing glasses and contacts coming to about $1,000 per year.

Due to new developments and the continued advancement of technology, worries about vision loss are now becoming a thing of the past. For those individuals who have been told they are not a candidate for LASIK or other vision correction, Kugler urges patients to visit their office near 180th and Burke streets.

“Over 80% of the patients that come to see us have been told at some point that they aren’t a candidate for a procedure,” he said.

While some might not be a candidate for LASIK specifically, there are other options for astigmatism, myopia and hyperopia.

Many patients are surprised by how quickly and easily their corrective eye procedures are performed. Kugler said LASIK can be finished on both eyes within nine minutes and allow patients to go back to work the next day.

A testimonial from a patient shared by Kugler Vision said they were nervous, but the clinic staff is reassuring and supportive.

Self-described as, “the outsiders in medicine,” Kugler’s drive for ethical practices in such a specialized field led him to start the clinic.

One clinic employee, Kori Walker, said she was a patient before she was an employee.

“I actually came in for an appointment, and I thought, ‘This looks like a fun place to work,’ and asked to fill out an application,” Walker said, adding after almost one year of work: “I couldn’t be happier to work here.”

With a team of passionate individuals and expert physicians in their field, Kugler Vision meets the gold standard in vision correction. They have the ability to diagnose and fix a specific problem which, in most fields of medicine, “is pretty rare,” Kugler said.

Using this technology to fix vision permanently and with predictable results, Kugler said, “that is very satisfying. We believe in how we do things … it’s a really engaged process.”

To take a self-test, find out more about vision correction procedures or schedule a consultation with Kugler Vision, call 402-558-2211 or visit lasikomaha.com.

Unique Ways to Tune Into Your Own Wavelength

No question, everyday life can deplete the vital forces that keep us energized. Thanks to a multitude of unique ways to get in touch with your inner yogi and practice meditation throughout the Omaha metro, mind-body-spirit refueling is just a breath away.

The Nebraska Zen Center

Offering meditation and mindfulness classes for over forty years, The Nebraska Zen Center is a refuge for practitioners at the Heartland Temple. Dosho Port, who teaches guided meditation, says the practice sets the mind up for a great day by creating a clear headspace. The Center also offers silent meditation sessions which fosters inner peace, focus and calm.

 

Read the full story here: https://www.omahachamber.org/wedontcoast/unique-ways-to-tune-into-your-own-wavelength/

Tap Into Omaha’s Best Brews!

Just like our eateries, Omaha is host to a cornucopia of fledgling breweries that are as colorful and unique as the people who run them. From pale ales to IPAs, the brewery scene in Omaha has a spot to cater to every taste. Tap In: Region’s Brewery Scene

Because of this, Greater Omaha has been nationally recognized as one of the top regions in the nations for craft breweries. Here are just a few of our gems that are making headway in their field (of hops).

Upstream Brewing Company

Omaha’s original brewpub, they’ve been making visitors feel like locals and locals feel like another round since 1996. New on tap: We Don’t Coast Kölsch – a classic german style ale dry hopped with Mandarina Bavaria and Hallertau Blanc Hops. Cheers to that!

To read the full story, visit the We Don’t Coast Blog here: https://www.omahachamber.org/wedontcoast/brewery-scene/