Eastern Nebraska city to put immigration issue to voters

July 24, 2018

SCRIBNER, Neb. (AP) — An eastern Nebraska community will let voters decide on an ordinance seeking to bar employing or renting residences to people living in the U.S. illegally.

The Scribner City Council voted unanimously Monday to put the controversial immigration issue on the November ballot. Council members gave the proposal an initial approval last month.

The push for such rules comes as the area prepares for an influx of workers for Costco’s new chicken processing plant in neighboring Fremont. The Costco plant will employ 1,000 workers when it opens next year and could change the face of Scribner, known to be a predominantly white farm town about 60 miles northwest of Omaha.

The plant will likely require new residents to fill half the jobs, according to many officials interviewed for a state labor study.

Scribner’s ordinance mirrors a similar ordinance in Fremont, which went into effect four years ago.

Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska and the Immigrant Legal Center of Omaha have spoken out against the ordinance.

The rule “invites racial profiling and risks increased harassment and discrimination,” said Danielle Conrad, the executive director of the state’s ACLU office.

Derek Wallen, a Scribner landlord, said the ordinance is a waste of time because individuals can use a fake name to obtain a license to rent housing.

“At the end of the day, you can’t verify things,” he said.

But some residents at a recent City Council meeting said providing proof of immigration status isn’t an undue burden.

Scribner Mayor Ken Thomas’ wife, Sally Thomas, said “We will be more than welcoming to any immigrant family as long as they come legally.”

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