Common sense prevails: Court Upholds Nebraska Town’s Ban On Renting To Undocumented Immigrants

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Fox News: Opening the door for the town of Fremont to begin enforcing its law and  offering implications for other cities with similar ordinances, a federal appeals panel on Friday upheld an eastern Nebraska city’s ban on renting to  people who aren’t in the U.S. legally.

Fremont voters handily approved a measure in 2010 that bans hiring or renting  to people who can’t prove they are in the country legally.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp ruled that parts of the  ordinance denying housing permits to those not in the country legally were  discriminatory and interfere with federal law. But the city has been enforcing  its requirement that businesses use federal E-verify software to check on potential employees.

On Friday, two judges of a three-member panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court  of Appeals rejected that reasoning, leading the majority to reverse the ruling  and vacate the lower court’s injunction against that part of the ordinance. Judge James Loken wrote that the plaintiffs failed to show the law was  intended to discriminate against Latinos or that it intrudes on federal law.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they will confer with their clients before  determining whether to ask the full 8th Circuit to review to the case.

The ruling appears counter to decisions in other courts on similar local  laws, said Aaron Siebert-Llera, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal  Defense and Educational Fund who represented several U.S.-born Latino home renters and a Fremont landlord who challenged the ordinance.

Siebert-Llera noted that two other federal appeals courts ruled against the  communities of Farmers Branch, Texas and Hazelton, Pa., which have similar laws targeting landlords and employers to dissuade them from renting to or hiring people in the country illegally. Both cities have appeals pending before the full federal circuit courts.

“You’ve got the U.S. Senate passing sweeping immigration reform. You’ve got this huge, nationwide change going on,” he said. “Then you have a decision like  this coming out.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which also sued over Fremont’s ordinance, bashed the 8th Circuit opinion. “The court majority failed to recognize that Fremont’s attempt to exclude undocumented illegal immigrants from the city’s borders is not only un-American, it’s  unconstitutional,” said Jennifer Chang Newell, an attorney for the ACLU’s  Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Eighth Circuit Judge Steven Colloton agreed with the reversal and vacating of  the injunction, but said the plaintiffs lacked standing in the case, meaning  they did not show how they had been or could be harmed by Fremont’s law.

Siebert-Llera took issue with that opinion, noting that one of the plaintiffs  showed she was forced to buy a mobile home, because she could not find anyone who would rent to in Fremont.

In a dissent, Judge Myron Bright agreed with the lower court that parts of  the ordinance interfere with federal law.

The ordinance will impose a distinct burden on undocumented persons illegal immigrants by  preventing them from renting housing in Fremont,” Bright wrote. “This denial of rental housing is paramount to removal from the city. And, as the Supreme Court  has made clear, removal is entrusted exclusively to the federal government.”

Kris Kobach, a Kansas attorney who represented Fremont and helped draft its ordinance and others around the country, lauded Friday’s opinion and said it  will have implications for both Farmers Branch and Hazelton as appeals courts look at their ordinances.

“And I think it has indirect implications for cities all across the country,  and certainly cities in Nebraska, that may wish to take similar steps to stop the negative effects of illegal immigration,” Kobach said.

Kobach said as soon as next week, the city will begin enforcing the part that  requires all renters in the city to apply for an occupancy permit and denies  those permits to people not legally in the country.

The ordinance stirred a whirlwind of controversy in June 2010, when roughly 57 percent of Fremont voters who turned up at the polls supported it. The  measure catapulted the city into the national spotlight and spurred comparisons with Arizona and other cities embroiled in the debate over (illegal) immigration regulations.

Fremont, about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, has seen its Hispanic population surge in the past two decades, largely due to the jobs available at two  meatpacking plants just outside the city. Census data show the number of  Hispanics soared from 165 in 1990 to 3,149 in 2010.

It’s unknown how many immigrants not legally in the country may live in  Fremont. According to census figures, 1,259 noncitizens live there, but that  figure includes people living in the U.S. legally.

Fremont city officials declined to comment Friday, saying they wanted time to  review the ruling.


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I wonder if you could make an argument that renting to an illegal alien is aiding or being an accomplice to a crime?


“one of the plaintiffs showed she was forced to buy a mobile home, because she could not find anyone who would rent to in Fremont.”

There is nothing in the ordnance that would prevent them from “buying” a house. That argument is erroneous on its face.




Racefish, there is a law on the books that Real Estate people (including Mobile Home Manufacturers) cannot sell to Illegals. it is against the law. It hasn’t been enforced, but it is against the law. (Harboring an illegal is a Federal Crime.” They haven’t taken that one off the books yet! It is still against the law to HIRE them. The fine here in Texas used to be $250.00. IF they raised it to $2,500 or $25,000 per illegal hired, this crap would stop. Construction Companies make out like bandits paying the Illegals $7.00 an hour vs. $14.00 per hour… Read more »