Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Perhaps that’s the reason 57 percent of voters in Fremont, Neb., passed a controversial law that prohibits “harboring or hiring illegal aliens.”
The ordinance requires employers to check the residency status of each potential hire on the E-Verify database, a voluntary program run by the Department of Homeland Security. The law is stronger than federal policy, which allows employers to voluntarily subscribe to the database.
Text continues after gallery
When it comes to renting, though, the ordinance is downright tough. A prospective tenant must buy a $5 occupancy license from the police and present it to the landlord. However, one license won’t do. A new move now requires a new license. And every person over 18 who lives in the household must get one. Hotels, dormitories and the city’s one homeless shelter are exempt from the law. So are folks hiring day laborers, janitors or domestics. The law has no force outside the city limits. That loophole excludes the two meatpacking plants that provide jobs to area Hispanics.
So guess where undocumented workers–or folks who could be mistaken for them–are probably going to stay? And that’s why the vote in Fremont harks to an unsavory past. The town has mimicked a method that thousands of American municipalities used in the past to keep their populations as white as possible.