Earlier Today, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments over Fremont’s anti-immigrant ordinance, a draconian law that established significant barriers to housing and employment in an attempt to make life for immigrants in Fremont nearly impossible.
Although the core of the housing ordinance was found to be unconstitutional by the district court, a licensing provision that would force all potential tenants in Fremont to disclose their immigration status in order to obtain housing was left intact. As we noted in our amicus brief, this would still create extraordinary burdens for immigrants and we asked the 8th Circuit to find it, like the rest of the housing provision, unconstitutional.
Unnecessary and harsh local laws like Fremont’s are devastating to cities because they destroy a feeling of community and create division. The lead up to and passage of Fremont’s draconian ordinance tore the community apart as evidenced by the Voices from Fremont series. This project was created with the local organization One Fremont One Future and other community groups, and chronicled the damaging effects the ordinance had on all of Fremont’s residents.
Furthermore, cities that have gone down this unfortunate and divisive route have had to cope with the high costs that go hand-in-hand with anti-immigrant laws. Fremont is no different. As the Omaha World Herald wrote in March, Fremont has set aside $1.07 million for legal costs and expects to spend nearly $500,000 per year on costs related to enforcing the law.
We hope the 8th Circuit expands on the district court’s opinion and strikes down the entire housing section of the ordinance. More states and cities are rejecting similar socially toxic and economically self-defeating laws, and a majority of Americans recognize that we need a positive, common-sense federal immigration process that includes a roadmap for people who aspire to be citizens.