Fremont voters approve illegal immigration ordinance

In a special election, people in Fremont said yes to a new immigration ordinance on Monday.

57% of voters supported the measure that will now ban hiring or renting to illegal immigrants in Fremont.  45% of registered voters hit the polls over the issue.

While the election may be over, people still have very strong opinions about the issue.

Barb Olson is a born and raised Fremont resident.  She supports the ban on hiring or renting to illegal immigrants because she says she's seen Americans lose jobs to illegal immigrants.  “[Illegal immigrants fled to our state so they could get everything for free and I don't think it's fair.”

In the ordinance, businesses are required to check the immigration status of employees with the federal E–Verify system.  Also, anyone wanting to rent property has to apply for a license from the city so officials can check their immigration status.

Bakery owner Carlos Cano says the new rules will be bad for his business.  He feels the ordinance is racist against Hispanic business owners.  “We're just trying to increase sales.  It's bad for us and is probably going to be bad for other businesses that have Latino customers.”

Bob Chapman voted against the proposal.  He says he wants immigration reform but doesn't want the burden of a costly court battle on Fremont's shoulders.  “They are illegal so they shouldn't be here but it's the federal government's issue, not just ours.  Also, the lawsuits we've heard about from other cities can be very expensive.”

Again, the ordinance passed 57% to 43%.

The ACLU Nebraska says it will file a lawsuit challenging the ordinance as soon as possible.  The ACLU says the new rules will it will cause discrimination and racial profiling against Latinos.

Fremont has seen its Hispanic population surge in the past two decades, largely because of people recruited to work for the Fremont Beef and Hormel plants.  The ordinance would subject all renters to checks by city officials and impose fines on employers who don't verify the immigration status of their workers.

The fFremont City Council narrowly rejected a policy similar to the proposed ordinance in 2008, but proponents got it to a public vote and the state supreme court refused to block it.