Nebraska town hit with 2 lawsuits

July 22, 2010

By Rachel B. Duke, The Washington Times

Two liberal groups each filed lawsuits Wednesday against the town of Fremont, Neb., in order to put a stop to its new ordinance banning people from hiring illegal immigrants or renting homes to them.

Mirroring arguments made against Arizona’s immigration crackdown, the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union claim the ordinance encourages racial profiling against Hispanics or other U.S. citizens who may appear to be foreign-born, and also intrudes on federal prerogatives.

The lawsuits claim Fremont’s ordinance is at odds with the constitutional mandate imposing a uniform federal immigration-enforcement system. They also accuse the ordinance of violating the federal Fair Housing Act and the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

“Divisive ordinances like these tear communities apart,” said Jennifer Chang Newell, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It’s time to stop promoting discriminatory policies like these so that we can come together to find a national approach to immigration.”

MALDEF did not return numerous phone calls for a comment regarding this matter.

Bob Hartwig, the Fremont city administrator, said the city has barely viewed the lawsuits.

He said he really had no position on the matter and that it was a resident-initiated petition, in which they went around collecting signatures.

“These lawsuits may affect the implementation of the policy,” Mr. Hartwig said.

Dean Skokan, Fremont city attorney, told reporters in Nebraska that while he had not yet seen these lawsuits, he had no doubt the town of about 25,000 people should “expect a minimum of about three lawsuits.”

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