Mo (Reuters) – Voters in a small Nebraska town on Monday added to an anti-immigration sentiment sweeping parts of the United States, voting to ban the hiring or renting of property to illegal immigrants.
An estimated 57 percent of voters in the eastern Nebraska community of Fremont voted in favor of the ban, according to unofficial results of the referendum in the town of about 25,000 people.
Supporters of the measure said it was needed to compensate for a lack of federal law enforcement of immigration violations, but opponents said the law could fuel discrimination and threatened litigation if it passed.
Potential renters would need to apply for a license, and through the application process Fremont officials could check to see if the prospective renters had legal status.
Also, the ordinance requires businesses to verify employees have legal status to work.
The move in Nebraska highlights the deep rift over immigration ahead of congressional elections this November.
It comes on the heels of passage of an Arizona law that requires state and local police to determine the status of people if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are illegal immigrants, and to arrest those who are unable to provide documents proving they are in the country legally.
The Arizona measure, which also makes it a crime to transport someone who is an illegal immigrant and to hire day laborers off the street, is widely considered the toughest measure taken by any U.S. state to curb illegal immigration.
The Obama administration has said it will challenge the Arizona measure.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam, editing by Vicki Allen)