Nebraska Town Weighs Suspending Illegal Immigrant Hiring Ban to Save Legal Fees

FoxNews, July 27, 2010

Faced with expensive legal challenges, officials in the eastern Nebraska town of Fremont are considering suspending a voter-approved ban on hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants until the lawsuits are resolved.

The City Council narrowly rejected the ban in 2008, prompting supporters to gather enough signatures for the ballot measure. The ordinance, which was approved by voters last month, has divided the community. Supporters say it was necessary to make up for what they see as lax federal law enforcement and opponents argue that it could fuel discrimination.

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The city faces lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund. City officials have estimated that Fremont’s costs of implementing the ordinance–including legal fees, employee overtime and improved computer software–would average $1 million a year.

Getzschman said it’s not clear how much money the city would save by suspending enforcement of the ordinance. {snip}

Getzschman insisted the council is trying to act in the city’s best interests and limit legal costs, even if the savings are small. In the meantime, the city has postponed informational meetings on the ban that were scheduled for this week.

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The ordinance has put Fremont on the list with Arizona and other cities in the national debate over immigration regulations. Arizona’s sweeping law also takes effect Thursday and requires police who stop people suspected of violating a law to check the immigration status of anyone they think is in the country illegally.

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It would require employers to use a federal online system that checks whether a person is permitted to work in the U.S.

It also would require people seeking to rent property to apply for a $5 permit at City Hall. Those who said they were citizens would receive a permit and would not have to provide documents proving their legal status. Those who said they weren’t citizens would receive permits, but their legal status would be checked. If they’re found to be in the country illegally and are unable to resolve their status, they would be forced to leave the property.

Landlords who knowingly rent to illegal immigrants could be subject to $100 fines.

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