Appleseed Testimony Opposing LB 48

Nebraska State CapitolMarch 2, 2011

Senator Brad Ashford
Chairman, Judiciary Committee
Room 1103, State Capitol
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

RE: Opposition to LB 48

Dear Chairman Ashford and Committee Members,

My name is Norman Pflanz and I am a staff attorney with Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest. We are a non-partisan, non-profit, public interest law project dedicated to equal justice and full opportunity for all Nebraskans. We are submitting this testimony in opposition to LB 48. As you will hear from a wide range of perspectives today, Nebraska values do not support an Arizona-style law in our state, nor can we afford the high risks and costs LB 48 would create for Nebraska.

LB 48 would create legal costs during a budget deficit to defend a law whose core components have already been blocked by a federal court in Arizona. As shown on the attached chart comparing Nebraska’s bill with Arizona’s law, core provisions of LB 48 have been blocked from implementation by a federal court order in
a case brought by the United States against the State of Arizona.

The Arizona federal court granted the United States’ motion for a preliminary injunction based on the court’s finding that the federal government is likely to succeed on the merits in showing that these sections of SB 1070 are preempted
by federal law. It is very likely that a federal court hearing a challenge to LB 48 would reach the same conclusion as the federal court in Arizona, namely, that federal law preempts these provisions.

Local-level immigration enforcement laws drafted in large part by the same attorney serve as a cautionary tale.(1) These local laws have repeatedly been struck down as unconstitutional, but not before generating great costs for local
governments. Examples include Hazleton, PA ($2.4 million); Farmers Branch, TX ($3.2 million); and Riverside, NJ ($82,000). All of these have been struck down in court. Here in Nebraska, the City of Fremont has budgeted $750,000
and raised property taxes 18% just for the first year of defending its ordinance.(2)

LB 48 would likely create significant fiscal and economic costs for Nebraska – as well as a cost to our state’s reputation – as has occurred in Arizona. Since Arizona passed SB 1070 in April 2010, the state has lost sporting events, conferences, and meetings to other states, costing the state tens of millions of dollars. A recent economic study estimates $141 million in lost spending – with a resulting loss in tax revenues – as of November 2010.(3) A few months after the law’s passage, Arizona’s governor allocated $250,000 for advertisements to help repair the state’s image: “Our brand has been beaten up,” said Michael Bidwell, Arizona Cardinals President and board chairman of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, during a panel discussion on how to restore Arizona’s image.(4) For additional costs, please see the attached fact sheet summary, “The High Costs and Risks of an Arizona-Style Law in Nebraska.”

LB 48 would impose an unfunded mandate on already cash-strapped local governments across the state of Nebraska. If enacted, LB 48 would saddle counties, cities, small towns, and their police departments with the significant costs and liabilities of implementing and enforcing the law. Local public safety budgets would be strained by having to accommodate these new requirements while overall budgets are being reduced and state aid is diminishing. The League of Nebraska Municipalities has taken a position against state and local-level immigration enforcement proposals. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has also passed a resolution opposing the enactment of laws similar to Arizona Law SB 1070 in other states.(5)

LB 48 is a danger to community policing and public safety, driving a wedge between the police and community members, which makes us all less safe. Requiring local law enforcement to serve as federal immigration officers has dangerous ramifications for the public safety of all community members. As former Los Angeles Police Chief and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said in a recent Omaha World Herald Op Ed: “Criminals are the biggest benefactors when immigrants fear the police…Officers can’t prevent or solve crimes if victims or witnesses are unwilling to talk to them because of the fear of being deported.” For this reason, requiring police to take on an immigration agent role is widely opposed by major law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association. As Mr. Bratton went on to say, “The solution isn’t…a state initiative like Legislative Bill 48 in Nebraska. Working with victims and witnesses of crimes closes cases faster and protects all of our families by getting criminals off the street. We must pass immigration reform and bring our neighbors out of the shadows so they can get the police service they need and deserve.”(6)

For these reasons, LB 48 would create very serious costs for Nebraska without providing real solutions. Common sense instead calls for workable solutions to the immigration system at the federal level, solutions that would support strong families, strong communities, and a strong economy in Nebraska.

If we can provide any further information or answer any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 402-438-8853 or npflanz@neappleseed.org.

Sincerely,
NEBRASKA APPLESEED CENTER FOR LAW IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
Norman Pflanz
Staff Attorney


1 “When Mr. Kobach Comes to Town: Nativist Laws and the Communities They Damage,” Southern Poverty Law Center, Jan. 2011

2 “City Weighs Tax Hike to Defend Law,” Omaha World Herald, 8/23/10

3 Stop the Conference: The Fiscal and Economic Consequences of Conference Cancellations Due to Arizona’s S.B. 1070, Center for American Progress, Nov. 2010

4Arizona Leaders Call on Brewer to Fix State’s Image,” The Arizona Republic, 9/9/10

5 2010 Adopted Resolutions, www.usmayors.org

6 “William Bratton: Immigration Reform Vital to Community Safety, Trust,” Omaha World Herald, 1/28/11

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