Andy Hanacek

Score one point for sensibility in the long war over immigration reform.

On July 29, the city council of Fremont, Neb., voted 4-4 on a proposed ordinance (effectively killing it) aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from renting housing or being hired by local businesses.

Briefly, this ordinance was introduced in the city council earlier this spring by city council member Bob Warner, garnering this small town west of Omaha quite a bit of national press and publicity as a microcosm of the problems with the U.S. immigration system (or lack thereof, depending whom you ask) today.

Fremont Mayor Don “Skip” Edwards cast the deciding vote to kill this ordinance, citing in an Associated Press story that he and Nebraska’s attorney general discussed the issue and believed it to be a “federal issue.”

The residents of Fremont should thank Mayor Edwards for his vote — he just saved them a lot of trouble, stress and, possibly, danger. Fremont was going to be a flashpoint if the vote went the other way — there was no stopping it. We, the people, have unfortunately seen this before in our often non-tolerant national history. In Fremont, you could read the tension between the lines of the newsprint. Eventually, that tension would have boiled over into nothing but trouble.

Now, the federal government MUST step in. Immigration reform is, no doubt, a very sticky subject and tough issue to solve, but unless the government wants a repeat of the racism, the riots, the generally scary and suspicion-filled decades that kicked off the second half of the 20th century, the government will have to make a move, regardless of what it means for the presidential election.

We as a nation cannot wait for a new chief executive to settle in and eventually address the immigration situation. We need a solution NOW.

Too many insinuations, nuances and misunderstandings float about when the target is uncertain, and those things endanger innocent people on both sides of the argument. Our industry, in particular, needs a solution that will allow processors to fall in line officially with the policies and no longer fear the threat of immigration raids. A solution will help the industry avoid continuous defense of its employment practices against charges tied to illegal hirings and move it out of the crosshairs of the federal government.

With the energy crisis filling the media airwaves and the print press, the government has gotten a free pass on the immigration issue for a few months now.

As we approach our nation's Labor Day, I urge everyone, regardless of which side you support, to press your elected officials to get back to fixing the broken immigration issue, before we have a real disaster on our hands.

Fremont dodged an enormous bullet — the next rural town might not be so lucky.