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ACLU Sues Over Fremont, NE Immigration Law

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 23, 2010 6:57 AM

The expected lawsuits challenging the Fremont ordinance prohibiting renting to or hiring illegal aliens were filed on July 21. The plaintiffs, several Fremont, Nebraska residents and two landlords, are represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska. The suit seeks to stop the law from taking effect on July 29.

As discussed in a prior post, the city ordinance would require potential renters to apply for a license from the city. City officials will then be required to refuse to issue that license to any applicants found to be in the country illegally. Employers will also be required to verify an employee's immigration status via the federal E-Verify database.

According to the Fremont Tribune, the plaintiffs to the suit say the law violates both state and federal law, including the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; the equal protection clause and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment and the Fair Housing Act. The law also allegedly exceeds the city's authority granted to it by Article XI of the Nebraska Constitution. In a statement, representatives for MALDEF said the group brought suit "to protect immigrants from unlawful, local regulation of immigration, contravening constitutional and federal authority."

Supporters of the law disagreed. The Tribune reports that State Senator Charlie Janssen quickly made his opinion known. "Let's make it clear that the unlawful parties here are the immigrants that chose to break federal and state laws by coming here illegally in the first place," Janssen wrote in a prepared statement. "The bottom line is that they are not 'undocumented workers,' they are illegal aliens."

The city had no specific comment on the suit. "We are reviewing the lawsuits and what they say," City Administrator Bob Hartwig told the Tribune. "It will take a day or two to look at it."

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