Nebraska Appleseed is proud to unveil a new art exhibit “Voices from Fremont.” The exhibit shares the stories of Fremont residents who have witnessed a growing sense of division, hostility, and suspicion in their community since the city passed a restrictive immigration ordinance in 2010. Special thanks to designer Justin Kemmerling for his hard work on this project.
On the surface, Fremont, Nebraska (pop. 25,000), seems like a typical Midwest town. Yet on June 22, 2010, voters in Fremont passed one of the nation’s most restrictive immigration ordinances – it prohibits businesses and landlords from hiring or renting to undocumented immigrants.
The impact on community life has already been devastating, although the ordinance has yet to go into effect. We asked area residents to tell us what it feels like in the community since the ordinance passed. Residents of all backgrounds – immigrant and U.S.-born – describe a sense of division and loss, a climate of increasing hostility and suspicion that is taking a toll on children and families. They describe a community that has been torn apart. This exhibit is a small sample of their voices.
Despite the ordinance, there is reason to hope for the future. Hundreds of Fremont residents worked tirelessly to oppose the measure. They want to return their town to the bedrock American principles of neighborliness and respect for others.
As at other points in our country’s struggle for civil rights, it will take a proactive effort to achieve integration and to counter fear. May we remember, and learn from, our history of previous struggles as we work for common-sense immigration reform – workable solutions that uphold our values and move us forward.
Listen to the voices from Fremont.