Voters just across the Missouri River in the eastern Nebraska town of Fremont approved an ordinance this week that bans the renting of apartments or houses to illegal immigrants, as well as hiring them for any job. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he hopes no Iowa towns attempt to follow suit.
“Any ordinance like that has to meet constitutional tests and, as I understand it, there’s going to be a court case filed immediately,” Harkin says. “City councils can’t just do whatever they want. They couldn’t, for example, pass an ordinance saying we’re going to have segregated schools. They can pass the ordinance, but the courts would never uphold it.”
The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is vowing to file an injunction to block the ordinance from taking effect, in addition to another suit challenging its constitutionality. Harkin says city leaders elsewhere need to take note.
Harkin says, “Before towns and communities go rushing off to emulate what Fremont’s done, they’d better hold their fire and see what happens to the court cases on this.” The law will subject all renters to checks by the city, located just northwest of Omaha, and will impose fines on employers who don’t verify the immigration status of their workers.
The lawyer who wrote Fremont’s anti-illegal immigrant ordinance has written similar measures for other cities, in addition to the Arizona state law. He says the laws are on solid legal footing and will withstand any court challenge.