FREMONT (KPTM) – The Fremont City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to delay implementing a new illegal immigration ordinance.
The council also voted to appoint well–known, national immigration attorney Kris Kobach to defend Fremont against two pending lawsuits in federal court. Kobach, one of the architects of the Arizona immigration law that has sparked widespread debate, is said to be offering his services pro–bono. He would be the lead attorney for Fremont on the case.
The votes by the council are just the latest chapter in an illegal immigration debate that's captured national attention and divided the community 25,000.
It comes just five weeks after Fremont voters passed the ban on hiring or renting to illegal immigrants and some see it as another attempt by the city to block the ordinance altogether.
It was council members who initially narrowly rejected a similar ban in 2008 and it took supporters circulating petitions to get the measure on the ballot.
The ordinance requires employers to use a federal online system to check if someone is authorized to work in the United States. Landlords who knowingly rent to illegal immigrants could also be fined $100.
Supporters say it's necessary because the federal government isn't doing its job when it comes to illegal immigration. "This idea of everything printed in Spanish as well as English, I think it's a bunch of baloney. It's not right and we need to take our country back," said Fremont resident Leon Rabe.
Headed into the meeting, some were already angry with the council's action. "It's very frustrating to know that they are taking our voices away from us and people who live here, work here and voted and it's just not the American way, it's really isn't," said Fremont resident Johnny Pry.
Others are greeting the news with relief. The ACLU, one of two groups who will argue the ban is unconstitutional in federal court, says the council has made a "responsible decision" that will prevent additional hostility until the matter is resolved in court.
Some say discrimination against Latinos has already scared folks in the community. "There hasn't been confirmed reports, because no one will come forward to file a report. A house was shot with BB guns, and another person had a person knock on their door screaming, 'The ordinance is in effect, you need to move now,' and people don't know someone's documentation status," said Rev. Howard Dotson.
Brian Hendrickson asked: "Why can't we have two Catholic churches in this town? Why can't have Latinos and others living side by side? Instead of building walls, we need to be creating more bridges."