A controversial Nebraska immigration law passed back in 2010 is coming back up for vote and immigration supporters are hoping it will be repealed. A small Nebraska city passed legislation that was supposed to prevent immigrants from being able to rent homes if they did not have legal status. After implementing this rule for a few years, it turns out the ordinance is less effective and more costly than officials previously estimated.
Fremont, Nebraska is one of the smaller towns located outside of Omaha with a population of around 26,000 that has acted alone to try to curb illegal immigration. Unfortunately, their efforts have resulted in numerous costly court battles that are over budget. The original ordinance required any immigrants looking for a rental property to prove that they had permission to be residing in the U.S. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals initially upheld the ordinance in 2013, but just as the city was getting ready to completely impose housing restrictions, newly elected officials wanted to schedule another vote.
While the goal of the ordinance makes sense to curb illegal immigration, critics have pointed out major flaws in the law which will cost the town “millions of dollars in legal fees and lost federal grants.” Opponents of the housing restrictions say they have only hurt the city’s reputation and driven away people looking for honest work. Many immigrants are leaving Border States for the Midwest where there are agricultural jobs. Fremont is home to a growing immigration population because of jobs at two large Beef plants.
With more immigrants relocating to states with available jobs several cities have tried implementing similar ordinances, but the unsustainable costs have led to second guessing this decision. For anyone applying for housing they are required to pay for a $5 permit and show their legal status. New permits are needed for every additional move, which is an inconvenience to those who reside in apartments. The executive director of the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce states, “Professionally, I’ve had very few conversations with people who see this as a positive.”
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