Judge voids Fremont Immigration Ordinance

February 20, 2012

Ruling says housing provisions are in conflict with Federal immigration law.

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LINCOLN – On Monday, February 20, 2012 Judge Laurie Smith Camp ruled that housing and harboring provisions of an immigration ordinance passed in Fremont, NE in June 2010 are in conflict with Federal law and therefor void. The ordinance was intended to drive-out persons alleged to be undocumented immigrants from renting homes in the 25,000-person town of Fremont.

"As every other federal court to consider a similar law has held, the Nebraska district court concluded that federal immigration law prohibits cities like Fremont from enacting their own laws to regulate housing based on immigration status. These laws are discriminatory, unfair, and unAmerican." said ACLU national attorney Jennifer Chang Newell who worked on the case.

Mario Martinez and other plaintiffs have reported that Fremont "is completely different" than it was before the ordinance passed. Incidents of discrimination and harassment from fellow residents have increased, even towards U.S. citizens such as Martinez.

"Treating residents of a community as outcast because of an unfounded allegation is contrary to Nebraska's motto of 'equality before the law,' said ACLU Nebraska legal director Amy Miller. "This victory should be a signal to other communities that 'show me your papers' is a phrase that belongs in our history books, not modern law."

Attorneys on the case, Martinez v. Fremont, include Newell and Kenneth Sugarman of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, former ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project attorneys Tanaz Moghadam and David Wakukawa and Terry Wittler; Miller of ACLU Nebraska; Nebraska trial counsel Alan Peterson of Lincoln; Michelle Sitorius of Cline Williams; Michael Nelsen of Omaha.

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