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A Nebraska town has gained notariety after battling with a law requiring landlords either not to rent to undocumented immigrants or require some sort of license. Just four years after the residents of the small town of Fremont voted to impose these regulations on undocumented immigrants, the city will soon begin requiring renters to get a permit from the city.
Voters in the conservative town of 26,000 backed the housing restrictions requiring renters to gain a permit for the second time and without any opposition from the Supreme Court, the law is now active. Since housing restrictions were going to be implemented in 2010, lawsuits sprung up challenging the propositions. The city had a chance to reconsider, but lawmakers are choosing to press on implementing the law and plan to meet any litigation head on. The only things that may prevent further policies for renters is if the Supreme Court intervenes and stops the permits from being issued. Fremont Police Chief Jeff Elliott stated, “Unless the U.S. Supreme Court jumps in during the next few hours, we’re going ahead.”
Immigrant Activists and the American Civil Liberties Union have released statements assuring immigrants and the state that they will closely be watching for any cases of discrimination. Critics of the proposition also believe this may not be the most cost effective decision for Nebraska’s economy. Legal fees may end up costing the state millions of dollars and possibly lost federal grants. Another reason is it may negatively impact Nebraska’s image as an open and accepting state for all. All the other cities that have attempted at restricting illegal immigration have wound up in expensive court battles that can last for years.
Under the new system, renters will have to go to their local police station and ask for a form and pay a fee in order to be issued the permit. For undocumented immigrants, their information will be submitted into an online database for future reference. If the license is revoked for any reason, both the landlord and the renter will be notified. While there is no telling how long this policy will be in place or when it will be challenged, immigration activists worry if other Midwestern states will decide to take a similar approach with immigration.