Photo: Mural in Fremont, Nebraska (Latinovations)
After almost four years of legal battles, a Nebraska town - starting on Thursday - will enforce a municipal ordinance requiring that anyone who wants to rent a home must prove that they are in the country legally.
Ordinance 5165, approved by Fremont voters in a 2010 referendum, prohibited hiring or renting to people who can’t prove their legal immigration status.
The measure also required local businesses to use the federal government’s E-verify system to confirm that job applicants are authorized to work in the country.
On Feb. 28, 2012, U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp found that the portions of 5165 pertaining to housing were discriminatory and in conflict with federal law and she issued an injunction blocking the enforcement of those provisions.
Last June, however, two of the three judges on a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reached a different conclusion, overturning Camp’s decision and lifting the injunction.
The ordinance’s employment provisions had entered into force earlier.
Authorities in Fremont can now enforce the rules requiring would-be renters to show proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residence.
Ordinance 5165 will not affect people who are already renting housing in the town, Fremont police chief Jeff Elliott said Wednesday.
The requirement to prove one’s legal residence in the country to be able to rent housing, he said, will only be enforced on would-be renters starting on Thursday.
To prove one’s legal status, everyone who will be living in the same home must receive an occupancy license from the police.
The form adult applicants must fill out asks for detailed information about them, as well as about each of the children who will be sharing the home.
In addition, the procedure includes signing a sworn declaration that specifies that the applicant is a U.S. citizen. If they are not, they will be asked to present the proper documentation to prove that they are in the country legally.
Census figures show that Latinos account for just under 12 percent of Fremont’s roughly 26,000 residents. Forty percent of the town’s Hispanic residents are U.S. citizens.