Over the last two years, tensions have been building in the community of Fremont as the city has considered and now passed an ordinance that seeks to prevent undocumented immigrants from renting and working. These ordinances have been attempted in a handful of small communities across the country and have been struck down in the courts as unconstitutional. Aside from the legal issues, the most devastating effect of pursing these policies is what it does to the climate and culture of a small town.
Our staff, together with a number of community partners, has begun the process of documenting the impact this local policy is having on the fabric of the community. These voices describe a climate of hostility and suspicion that is taking its toll on children and families even before the ordinance goes into effect. Residents were asked to describe what they have seen and felt in the community since the ordinance vote. Each Friday through August 13, we will share the voices of those in Fremont who are facing daily the harsh realities of their changed community.
It is too sad. Somebody told us “go back to Mexico” but we are from El Salvador. Anyway now with the ordinance we are planning to move to another state. We are legal permanent residents. (7/6/10)
La verdad, no se como explicarle a mi nina, cuando ella pregunta, “Por que esas personas te gritaron F—— Mexican go back to your country” pero yo naci aqui. (7/18/10)
The truth is I don’t know how to explain to my daughter when she asks, “Why do those people shout at you F—— Mexican go back to your country” but I was born here. (7/18/10)
I am sad because I don’t want to leave my school and my friends. (7/18/10)
Nosotros somos personas de paz. Solamente queremos vivir en paz, trabajar para este país y hacerlo crecer con trabajo y amor. (7/6/10)
We are people of peace. All we want is to live in peace, work for this country and make it grow with work and love. (7/6/10)
26 Junio mis vecinos me gritaron vete para Mexico. A los tres dias mirando por la ventana descubri que nos estaban disparando con una pistola de postas. No tengo miedo por mi pero temo por mis hijos. (7/6/10)
June 26 my neighbors shouted “Go back to Mexico.” Three days ago, while looking out the window I discovered that we were being fired at with BB guns. I am not afraid for myself but I am afraid for my children. (7/6/10)
Antes de la ordenanza la gente no habia mostrado tanto odio. Ahora, ellos se sienten con libertad para expresando “go back to Mexico, we don’t want illegals in Fremont.” (7/18/10)
Before the ordinance the people didn’t show so much hate. Now they feel free to say, “go back to Mexico, we don’t want illegals in Fremont.” (7/18/10)
Yo pongo que nos tratan muy mal. Nos gritan cosas ofensivas. Tengo una nina de 10 anos y me dice que ella ya no quiere estar en Fremont porque nos tratan muy mal. Ya no quieren salir a jugar. No mas se la pasar enserrados y en la wal-mart tambien nos tratan mal. (7/6/10)
I want you to know that they treat us very badly. People yell offensive things at us. I have a 10-year-old daughter and she told me that she doesn’t want to live in Fremont because they treat us very badly. She doesn’t want to go outside and play anymore. She spends her time shut inside. They treat us badly [when we’re shopping] too. (7/6/10)
I moved from California to Nebraska because someone told me that it is a good place to live but it is not true. (7/6/10)
Yo me siento mal moralmente, por que ahora ya no salgo a la calle agusto. Siempre voy pensando que me pueden hacer malas miradas o que me griten alguna persona anglosajona que va en otro carro. Me gritan que no soy de aquí y que me regrese a mi país. Por eso es que me siento frustrado a pesar de que llevo ya 9 años de vivir y trabajar en Fremont.
Una experiencia fea es que a un sobrino mio una señora racista lo empujo y se calló al suelo, y le llame a
la policía y ellos no le hicieron nada.
Todo esto no pasaba antes en esta ciudad. (7/6/10)
I feel sad now I can’t go out on the street comfortably. I always think that they are going to give me bad looks or that a white person in another car will yell at me. They yell at me that I am not from here and that I should return to my country. This is why I feel frustrated despite the fact that I have lived and worked in Fremont for 9 years.
One ugly experience is that a racist woman pushed one of my nephews and he fell to the ground. I called the police and they did nothing.
All of this didn’t happen before in this city. (7/6/10)
Han estado llamando a mi negocio y me dicen que le van a meter fuego. (7/18/10)
They have been calling my business and telling me they’re going to set it on fire. (7/18/10)
No entiendo porque pasan estas leyes que lo unico que hacen es dividir a nuestra comunidad. (7/18/10)
I don’t understand why they pass laws that only divide our community. (7/18/10)
I am writing regarding the situation in Fremont. The ordinance that just passed is in violation of people’s rights and against any standards of common decency and ethics.
No one in Fremont or Nebraska knows how many illegals are here, that I am aware of. But people are already being profiled by the mere fact they speak Spanish and the color of their skin. They are good people and need to be respected like any members of the community. Fremont, Ne. (7/6/10)
Me siento discriminada y muy triste. (7/18/10)
I feel discriminated against and very sad. (7/18/10)
Despues de la ordenanza hay muchas personas que nos muestra que tienen mucho odio para nosotros dicen “go back to your country.” (7/18/10)
After the ordinance many people show a lot of hate for us, saying “go back to your country.” (7/18/10)
Muchas personas nos gritan que venimos a robarles sus trabajos que nos regresemaos a Mexico. A donde yo trabajo hay muchas vacantes. Yo pago impuestos. (7/18/10)
Many people yell at us that we’re stealing their jobs and that we should go back to Mexico. Where I work there are many job openings. I pay taxes. (7/18/10)[Note: A number of community partners gathered these handwritten, anonymous comments directly from community members. Only minor corrections to spelling have been made.]