Federal judge strikes down part of Nebraska city immigration law

Federal judge strikes down part of Nebraska city immigration law

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[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Nebraska [official website] on Monday struck down [order, PDF] a provision in Fremont, Nebraska law that denies housing permits to illegal immigrants, saying the ordinance violates federal law. In the ruling, Judge Laurie Smith Camp also upheld part of the Fremont law that requires employers to verify the citizenship of workers they hire. Camp concluded that the housing provision violated the Fair Housing Act [text]:

It is apparent … that once the City’s legitimate interest in knowing the immigration status of its residents is satisfied, the revocation of occupancy permits does nothing to further that legitimate interest. Accordingly, the “viable alternative means” available to the City to achieve its legitimate policy objectives without discriminatory effects is to stop short of revoking occupancy permits if the immigration status of a resident is verified, whether that status is lawful or unlawful. Accordingly, the Court finds that the enforcement … of the Ordinance, prohibiting the harboring of illegal aliens, providing for the revocation of occupancy licenses, and providing for certain penalties following the revocation of occupancy licenses, violates the Fair Housing Act.

It is unclear if the city of Fremont plans to appeal the ruling.

The city of Fremont suspended enactment of the ordinance [JURIST report] until the district court decided the issue. In November 2010, the Nebraska Supreme Court [official website] declined to rule on the ordinance [JURIST report]. In August 2010, Camp ruled [JURIST report] that the Nebraska Supreme Court should be the first forum to address the ordinance. In July 2010, the first lawsuits challenging the ordinance were filed [JURIST report] by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) [advocacy websites]. Fremont voters originally passed the ordinance [JURIST report] in June 2010.