Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nebraska Town Votes to Banish Illegal Immigrants

The New York Times reports the residents of Freemont, Nebraska are trying to pass a law banning illegal immigrants from all other jobs and even rental homes. The new law, if it passes, will try to bar landlords from renting to those in the country illegally, requiring renters to provide information of the person to the police and to obtain city occupancy licenses.

Opponents say paying to defend such a local law would require a significant cut in Fremont city services or a major tax increase — or combination of the two. But advocates feel federal authorities failed to enforce immigration restrictions, forcing places like Freemont, Nebraska with a small but growing Hispanic population to take matters into their own hands.

The advocates of the law complained that illegal immigrants were causing an increase in crime, taking jobs that would once have gone to longtime residents and changing the character of their quiet city, some 30 miles of farm fields from Omaha.

Fremont’s Hispanic population, practically nonexistent two decades ago, has grown to about 2,000 people, according to some estimates. No one knows how many illegal immigrants live in Fremont, and the estimates (depending on which side of this debate one is on) vary enormously—as stated by the New York Times article.

It’s interesting to note how the new law wouldn’t apply to the area’s two largest meatpacking plants –including Hormel. They happen to be just outside official city limits.

This is what the A.CL.U. had to say in a statement about the Nebraska issue, “If this law goes into effect, it will cause discrimination and racial profiling against Latinos and others who appear to be foreign born, including U.S. citizens,” Laurel Marsh, executive director of A.C.L.U. Nebraska , said in a statement issued late Monday. “The A.C.L.U. Nebraska has no option but to turn to the courts to stop this un-American and unconstitutional ordinance before the law goes into effect. Not only do local ordinances such as this violate federal law, they are also completely out of step with American values of fairness and equality.”

Some residents were outraged by the choice, and began collecting signatures on a petition to put the question to a vote — the vote that ultimately came on Monday.

Read the the full article here. Tell me your thoughts on Facebook or @ronideutch on Twitter.

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