MALDEF ARGUES BEFORE THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS IN CONTINUED CHALLENGE TO FREMONT, NEBRASKA ANTI-IMMIGRANT ORDINANCE
On December 13, 2012, MALDEF Chicago Regional Counsel, Alonzo Rivas, argued before a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota, in a continued battle to block the remaining provisions of an anti-immigrant housing ordinance in Fremont, Nebraska. The appeal follows a February, 2012 victory obtained by MALDEF and the ACLU, when a federal court struck down several provisions of the ordinance.
In 2010, MALDEF filed a federal lawsuit challenging Fremont Ordinance 5165, a controversial law to regulate rental housing within the city's borders. The ordinance sought to require all prospective new tenants to apply for an occupancy license before they could enter into a contract to rent an apartment, a process that, in turn, required the applicant to disclose his or her immigration status. Prospective tenants who were not able to verify they were lawfully present in the country would have their occupancy licenses revoked, and any landlord who entered into a lease contract with such tenants would be sanctioned.
MALDEF filed suit to block the ordinance, on behalf of landlords, tenants and employers in Fremont, arguing that it was in violation of the Supremacy ¬Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it intrudes into the federal government's exclusive power to regulate immigration. MALDEF also argued that the Fremont ordinance violates the Fair Housing Act because it would have a disparate impact on the Latino community in Fremont.
In February of this year, a federal court enjoined the City of Fremont "from enforcing certain parts of the ordinance that prohibit the harboring of [undocumented immigrants] and provide for the revocation of occupancy licenses." However, while Fremont was no longer permitted to revoke occupancy licenses, the city was still allowed to require occupancy licenses for individuals trying to rent an apartment, and it could still inquire about citizenship status.
MALDEF and the ACLU appealed the district court decision on the remaining provisions of the ordinance, emphasizing the federal government's sole jurisdiction over immigration matters. MALDEF's Rivas and an ACLU attorney argued before the appellate panel, and a decision is expected in the next several months.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.