Our VoiceImmigration

[Cross Post] Fremont, Nebraska Has More to Gain from Welcoming Immigrants

Imagine 2050 Staff • Feb 05, 2014

Written by Wendy Feliz | Originally posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 for ImmigrationImpact.com 

Fremont, Nebraska, has become ground zero for one of the longest-standing anti-immigrant experiments in the United States. In 2010, the small, Midwestern town of 26,000 voted on an ordinance that would create unwieldy and costly housing permits to verify the immigration status of all Fremont renters and would force businesses to use E-Verify (an electronic employment verification system). Laws like this one grew out of the “attrition through enforcement” or “self-deportation” philosophy nurtured by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the author of the Fremont ordinance, as well as Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56. So it is no surprise that Kobach and his sponsors continue to defend the law despite the high costs to the community.

In 2013, the Eighth Circuit upheld the ordinance. But City Council members, who have grown weary of the high social and economic costs of the bill—and who know that many community members have changed their perspective since the original vote—have decided to call for a new referendum vote on February 11. The public will decide whether or not to roll back the parts of the law that require all renters to apply for rental permits with the local police. The E-Verify portion of the measure will not be voted on.

The referendum vote will be key to gauge where the community now stands on the bill after three years of battle around this law. Since the bill’s passage, there has been intense push-back by the business and faith community. The Mayor of Fremont told the Omaha World-Herald:

“The perception is that Fremont is a hateful community,” the mayor said. “We don’t know how many businesses shied away from Fremont because of the ordinance.”

In addition, the spillover impacts and unintended consequences on many non-immigrant community members like the elderly and native renters have become clear. However, that will not stop the outside anti-immigrant groups who wrote and supported passage of this law. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)—employer of Kris Kobach—have already  begun pushing out “data” that they believe shows the costs of undocumented immigration to Nebraska.


For more on this story, visit American Immigration Council’s Immigration Impact here.

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