The other local immigration law that was set to go into effect tomorrow is in the town of Fremont, Nebraska. The ordinance was approved by voters last month and would have prohibited the hiring of, or renting to, illegal aliens.
But the town council there voted last night to suspend the measure because of the prohibitive costs of fighting the ACLU and MALDEF in court:
Fremont appears to be leaning away from a court fight for cost reasons – officials have estimated that implementing the ordinance, including legal fees, would average $1 million per year.
Legal experts say that sets a bad precedent.
“City Councils should not suspend ordinances just because they might be expensive,” says Jessica Levinson, adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School. “The voters have spoken, and passed this ordinance. Regardless of the merits (or constitutionality) of this particular ordinance, it would set a bad trend if elected bodies start to fail to implement newly passed initiatives,” she says.
Robert Stern, preside of the Center for Governmental studies, agrees. “I have problems with this action by the council since the ordinance was adopted as an initiative measure by the voters,” he says. “The council should have opposed the measure when it was on the ballot,” he says.
Critics of the suits say they amount to intimidation. “The strategy is essentially, ‘You may want to take actions to deal with illegal immigration? It may be what the citizenry wants, but if you try, we’ll bleed you dry in the courts,’“ says Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).