Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Anti-Illegal Immigration Law To Be Tested In Court

Nebraska City Law Similar To Texas Ordinance Struck Down In Federal Court

Courts will soon have to determine if a city law targeting illegal immigration is too
vague, unconstitutional, or just improper.

The ordinance goes much further than the state law recently enacted in Arizona allowing police officers to detain and investigate anyone they suspect might be in this nation illegally if they have probable cause to believe they might be.

Fremont, Nebraska, enacted a city law approved by voters in June which will require employers to first verify if a new hire is in fact a legal resident before putting them to work.

Hormel and Fremont Beef Packing employ many Hispanic workers at their plants located
outside the city limits of this town located 35 miles northwest of Omaha.

Landlords will have to wait for city approval and the issuance of a renter's license before they can let tenants move in. First, the residency status of the occupants will have to be checked and verified by city officials, an item the municipal administration estimates will cost taxpayers about $1 million per year.

This part of the measure is similar to one struck down by a federal Court recently that would have required the same level of investigation from officials and landlords in Farmers Branch, Texas.

The law is scheduled to take effect at the end of this month.

So far, two civil rights groups have filed suits challenging the constitutionality of the new ordinance. The ACLU has objected to the city law's ignorance of a constitutional provision that requires a uniform enforcement of federal immigration law.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), an agency of the
Chicago umbrella organization founded by attorney Saul Alinsky, the Industrial Areas
Foundatioin, has challenged the law on the basis of its approach to federal fair housing standards.

"The Fremont ordinance is so vague, they actually are talking about people like me," said Shirley More James of Lincoln, an attorney who filed the suit on behalf of MALDEF. She is a third generation Mexican-American. "If I went to live in Fremont, and I want to rent, I will have to prove my citizenship. I believe that's a violation of my civil rights. I don't think after two generations in this country that I have to prove I am a U.S. citizen."

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