3 groups join in opposing city’s immigration law
September 6, 2012 · Print This Article
MARGERY A. BECK
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Three civil rights organizations have entered the legal battle over an eastern Nebraska city’s ordinance targeting illegal immigration.
The Fair Housing Center of Nebraska-Iowa, the National Fair Housing Alliance and Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group National Council of La Raza all recently filed “friend of the court” briefs in opposing the Fremont ordinance.
In 2010, voters in the town of 26,000 easily approved the measure, which banned hiring or renting to illegal immigrants and required businesses to use federal E-verify software to confirm that potential employees were not illegal immigrants.
The ACLU Nebraska Foundation, along with several U.S.-born Latino home renters and a Fremont landlord, sued. In February, a federal judge approved the E-verify requirement, but rejected part of the measure that would deny city-issued housing permits to illegal immigrants.
Both sides appealed, and the case is set to go before the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The fair housing and La Raza groups target the section of the law dealing with renting to illegal immigrants in their briefs, filed Aug. 31.
That section requires all renters in the city to apply for an “occupancy license.” Applicants are required by the ordinance to declare their immigration status in their application; those whose legal status cannot be verified will have their right to rent within the city revoked.
U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Smith Camp ruled in February that the renting section of the ordinance is discriminatory and interferes with federal law.
Janis Bowdler, with the National Council of La Raza, said ordinances such as the one approved in Fremont are aimed at intimidating Hispanic families. She called the law divisive and costly, and she argued it paints Fremont as a place that allows racial discrimination against its residents.
Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, predicted the 8th Circuit would uphold the lower federal judge’s finding that Fremont’s renting regulation is discriminatory.
“The city of Fremont is blatantly discriminating against the Latino population while pretending not to,” Smith said in a statement.
Kris Kobach, the attorney representing the city of Fremont who also serves as Kansas’ secretary of state, did not return a message left Thursday seeking comment on the briefs.
Another attorney for the city, Garrett Roe with the Immigration Reform Law Institute in Washington, referred questions to Kobach, but said the city intends to oppose the groups’ amicus briefs.