FREMONT, Neb. – The mayor of this Nebraska city broke a 4-4 council vote on Tuesday that killed a proposal that would have targeted illegal immigrants. The ordinance would have barred renting housing or hiring illegal immigrants.

Fremont's proposal was revised last week to include hiring provisions, reports said. It would have required all businesses in city limits to use a federal Internet-based employment verification system. Businesses that didn't comply could have lost their licenses, permits or contracts with the city.

Fremont Beef and Hormel Corp. are already using the system, though both plants are outside city limits and would not have been subject to the proposal.

The ordinance also would have prohibited renting to and harboring illegal immigrants. Renters would have had to secure $5 occupancy licenses to prove their legal status. Renters without licenses or landlords renting to people without occupancy licenses would have been subject to a fine of $100.

Supporters of the proposal expressed their frustration over lax enforcement by federal officials. Opponents voiced concern about discrimination and worries the proposal could cause more problems than bring solutions.

Nebraska Attorney General has said a 1997 opinion that said the state does not have authority to impose sanctions on businesses that hire illegal immigrants stands. Fremont City Attorney Dean Skokan has told the council the city does not have the authority either. Cities that have passed similar laws have faced legal challenges.

A final vote on the proposal is set for Aug. 26.


Source: Associated Press