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Fremont May Change Illegal Immigrant Housing Ban

The Fremont City Council will soon consider removing portions of the city's ban on renting housing to people who aren't in the U.S. legally.

Fremont voters approved the city ordinance in 2010 that prohibits hiring or renting to people who can't prove they are in the country legally. The hiring portion is in effect, but the housing provision has been delayed due to protracted litigation over the controversial section.

Despite staving off a slew of legal challenges, the city itself is now reconsidering the ordinance due to financial concerns.

Potential Financial Issues

The proposal would remove sections requiring occupancy permits and enforcement of other housing provisions, the Fremont Tribune said. It's scheduled for a first reading and is the last item on the council's agenda for Tuesday. Three readings and affirmative votes are required for it to take effect, reports the Tribune.

Mayor Scott Getzschman said the council is concerned about the potential costs of the housing restrictions and forcing taxpayers to shoulder the financial burden. City officials are particularly worried that Fremont may lose significant federal grants if federal officials decide the city's housing restrictions violate the federal Fair Housing Act.

The litigation also took a toll on the city's reputation and harmed it's ability to attract new business.

Legal Endurance

Last year, a U.S. district judge ruled that parts of the ordinance that would deny city-issued housing permits to people who are in the country illegally were discriminatory and interfere with federal law.

Back in June, a three-member panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling and vacated the lower court's injunction against that part of the ordinance.

Earlier this month, the Appeals Court rejected a petition to hear the case en banc.

The latest development serves as a good reminder that even when a controversial ordinance manages to withstand legal battles, bad publicity and federal pursestrings can still win the war.

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