News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fear and bigotry trump economic sense

Fremont, Nebraska is a town of 25,000 that believes illegal immigration is such a problem, its citizens are willing to endure lawsuits to defend a recent law banning illegal immigrants from renting property or landing a job in the city. Is the cost of these alleged illegal immigrants to the community greater than the legal costs the city will incur defending a law that has been struck down by courts in several other cities?  Clearly, fear and bigotry can trump economic sense.

From the Wall Street Journal...

Remember Fremont, Nebraska? In June, citizens of the 25,000-person town voted in favor of banning illegal immigrants from renting property or landing a job in the town.
The law, which requires town officials to evaluate the citizenship of anyone renting property, has put the town at the center of the roiling immigration debate.
On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of landlords, tenants and employers in Fremont.
The suit claims that Fremont’s law interferes with the federal government’s authority over immigration matters and further that it has a discriminatory effect on those who look or sound “foreign.”
“This law encourages discrimination and racial profiling against Latinos and others who appear to be foreign born, including U.S. citizens,” Amy Miller, Legal Director of ACLU Nebraska, said in a statement. “We’re going to do all we can to make sure this extreme law, which would lead to individuals losing housing and jobs because of their appearance and language accent, never goes into effect.”
Here’s an article from the Fremont Tribune.
“We are reviewing the lawsuits and what they say,” Fremont City Administrator Bob Hartwig told the paper. “It will take a day or two to look at it.”
“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,” Nebraska State Sen. Charlie Janssen said in a statement.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund also filed suit yesterday against the Fremont law, according to the Tribune. MALDEF likewise alleges the law violates the Constitution’s supremacy and equal protection clauses.