Martinez v. Fremont
The ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and ACLU of Nebraska filed a federal lawsuit in July 2010 in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska on behalf of landlords, tenants and employers in Fremont, Nebraska challenging a discriminatory law that requires prospective renters to provide the Fremont Police Department with information about their citizenship or immigration status prior to renting any home.
The law also requires employers to check the status of would-be hires using E-Verify, a flawed federal electronic verification program that Congress has repeatedly declined to make mandatory. The ACLU’s lawsuit charges that Fremont’s law is at odds with the clear constitutional mandate imposing a uniform federal immigration enforcement system and has a discriminatory effect on those who look or sound “foreign.” After the ACLU filed suit, the City Counsel resolved to suspend enforcement of the Ordinance pending the outcome of the district court litigation.
On February 20, 2012, the district court issued a decision permanently enjoining provisions in the Ordinance that prohibit landlords from “harboring” unlawfully present immigrants, and that require that the City revoke the rental licenses of any tenant verified by the federal government to be unlawfully present in the United States. The district court allowed the remainder of the Ordinance to stand, including the E-Verify mandate, and both sides have appealed parts of the district court’s decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fremont City Counsel voted to continue the suspension of the Ordinance’s housing provisions during the pendency of the appeals, but permitted the E-Verify mandate to go into effect.