Fremont Law Still Leaves Room for Bias

February 28, 2012

ACLU to Appeal Ruling on Fremont Anti-Immigrant Law

Lawyers claim parts of law left standing create an “unfair burden” for clients

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CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

LINCOLN -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska said today it intends to appeal a decision that left intact part of an anti-immigrant ordinance in the city of Fremont. Fremont’s law, passed in June 2010, was partially struck down by a federal judge on Feb. 20.

“We were gratified by the judge’s decision that key portions of the ordinance violated federal law and the Constitution,” said Jennifer Chang Newell, a staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.  “We are appealing the decision only because we believe the remainder of the ordinance still imposes an illegal and unfair burden on our clients.”

The case, filed on behalf of five renters in Fremont, a city of 26,000 northwest of Omaha, as well as two landlords and two local employers, will go to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“While the courts are still reviewing this problematic and un-American law, we’ve asked the City Council to hold off from enforcement,” said ACLU Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller.  “The city has voluntarily suspended the ordinance during the first phase of the lawsuit and we’ve asked them to continue doing so.”

A federal district judge rejected as unconstitutional provisions of the law that would have prohibited the harboring of undocumented immigrants and that would have allowed Fremont to revoke the rental licenses of persons found to be undocumented immigrants.  However, the judge let stand the provisions that would require potential renters to provide citizenship or immigration status information and pay $5 to obtain a renter's license.

A letter from ACLU Nebraska was sent to the city’s attorney earlier today, urging the Fremont City Council to wait on implementing the ordinance due to the costs to the city, the hardship generated for those affected by the ordinance, the potential for public confusion should an appeal alter the outcome in the case, and a concern that implementation may spark additional lawsuits.  A copy of the letter is online at www.aclunebraska.org

"Until the appeals process is finally resolved," noted Miller, "there is no reason to create additional burdens on both sides of the case."

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