Grant Schulte, AP, May 5, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to review a Nebraska city’s ordinance that bans renting homes to immigrants living in the country illegally could open the door to similar laws elsewhere, supporters said Monday, though they’re likely to encounter fresh legal challenges.
Attorney Kris Kobach, who defended the ordinance, said Monday’s decision gives a “bright green light” for other cities within the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that want to adopt such laws. The circuit includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
Still, any city that chooses to adopt such an ordinance would almost certainly face a costly legal fight from advocacy groups that are working to stop them. Earlier this year, the justices declined attempts by two other towns–in Pennsylvania and Texas–to revive similar laws that had been struck down by lower courts. But unlike the Pennsylvania and Texas ordinances, the Fremont rules do not impose penalties on immigrants.
The Fremont ordinance requires renters to get a $5 permit and swear that they have legal permission to live in the United States. First approved in 2010, the ordinance has survived several legal challenges and an attempt to repeal it at the ballot box in February.
The high court on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that found the ordinance does not discriminate against Latinos or interfere with federal immigration laws.
“This is a final and complete victory for Fremont,” said Kobach, who serves as Kansas’ secretary of state. “It is beyond question that every city in the 8th Circuit has the ability to adopt the Fremont ordinance, word for word.”
The number of Hispanics in Freemont jumped from 165 in 1990 to 1,085 in 2000 and 3,149 in 2010, mostly because of jobs at the nearby Hormel and Fremont Beef plants. However, supporters of the measure insist it does not target Hispanics.
Fremont Police Chief Jeff Elliott said 140 people have applied for licenses since the city began enforcing the ordinance on April 10. “It’s lower than what we had expected at this point,” Elliott said.