Posted on February 12, 2014

Nebraska City Keeps Immigration Law

Mark Peters, Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2014

Voters in an eastern Nebraska city again backed a local ordinance cracking down on illegal immigrants, continuing a long-running battle that thrust the community of 26,000 into the national debate over immigration enforcement.

On Tuesday, residents of Fremont, which is 35 miles northwest of Omaha, upheld the housing sections of the city ordinance, which prohibits harboring, hiring or renting to undocumented immigrants. First approved in a 2010 citywide vote, the law faced a lengthy legal challenge, with the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals eventually upholding it. Still, a U.S. Supreme Court appeal is likely for the ordinance set to go into effect next month.

Although the measure won approval more than three years ago, elected officials held another citywide vote on the housing sections, which require residents to receive an occupancy license from police.

The second vote was driven by growing information on the costs of the ordinance to the community, from the loss of federal housing and redevelopment money, to challenges in attracting students to a local university, said Jennifer Bixby, City Council president.


Supporters of the ordinance said officials ignored the results of the 2010 referendum. They also contend the federal government hasn’t acted to enforce immigration laws even as undocumented residents continue to drive up costs for schools and other taxpayer-funded services.

{snip} Nearly 60% of those voting Tuesday backed the ordinance, according to unofficial results in the meatpacking town that has seen an increase in the number of Hispanic residents.


{snip} Plaintiffs in Fremont are expected to take their case to the Supreme Court now that voters have again backed the ordinance.

Court challenges to local ordinances cracking down on illegal immigrants have contributed to a slowdown in the number of communities looking to pass them. Kris Kobach, a lawyer representing Fremont and other communities, said that could change if the Supreme Court eventually weighs in and backs the ordinances, clearing the way for more municipalities to take steps.