Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fremont Council Says No to Illegal Immigration Measure

Fremont, Neb.
Posted: 9:52 PM Jul 29, 2008
Last Updated: 9:29 AM Jul 30, 2008
Reporter: Alicia Myers
Email Address:
Fremont Immigration Hearing

Nearly 1,000 people turned out in Fremont Tuesday night, voicing their opinions on a proposed illegal immigrant ban.

The Fremont city council has spent the past few weeks weighing in on the issue that could outlaw things like hiring or renting to illegal immigrants.

Fremont business leaders say they worry a new ordinance targeting illegal immigration could hurt the community. That is exactly how hundreds of residents feel.

Some council members say it is an issue that needs to be looked at for the sake of some supportive residents.

The city council wasn't supposed to vote until the end of August but decided to vote Tuesday night. They were deadlocked at 4-4 before Mayor Don "Skip" Edwards voted against the ordinance.

Testimony took more than three hours. Near the beginning of the testimonies, the length of the line into Fremont High School's auditorium was something you'd normally see waiting outside a headliner concert. Instead, the line was full of people fighting for their rights, as well as their community's well-being, at Fremont's Tuesday evening city council immigration hearing.

"We're here in peace. We want to show them that we want to live in this community," said Gabby Ayala, Fremont resident.

Ayala has been a legal U.S. citizen for many years, but when she came to the states, she said it was a different story.

"I was an illegal immigrant," Ayala said. "I know it's hard. It's scary to go out, and think that people are looking at you because they're wondering if you're legal or not. Thankfully now, I'm a U.S. citizen, and that's why I'm supporting the illegal immigration."

Ayala said the ordinance would tear the city apart, by making it illegal to harbor, hire, or rent to any illegal immigrants.

City Council Chair, Gary Bolton, said while he is not a fan of the local city ordinance, something at the federal level needs to be done.

"Without a doubt, nearly everyone, whether you're in favor of the ordinance or opposed to the ordinance, I think there are those that feel we have an immigration problem in this country," Bolton said.

"I think the country needs to be legalized. Everybody that's supposed to be here should be here, and the rest should leave," said Al Knoell, Fremont resident.

Those opposed say an ordinance like this could divide the city in a negative way.

"We're also concerned that the ordinance would lead to increased discrimination to all immigrants, not just undocumented immigrants, but all immigrants as well as other minorities," said Norm Pflanz, Nebraska Appleseed.

As hundreds gathered, sharing their opinions, Ayala hoped for the best for her community.

"I hope the government does something, and accomplishes something, and gives everybody the chance to become legal in this country," said Ayala.



The Watchman said...

I spoke against the ordinance at the hearing. The anti-immigrant activists where re-hashing the usual facts and figures from hate groups.

Pro-immigrant speakers spoke with passion against the ordinance, with a few well known speakers pointing out the obvious legal consequences if the city passed another Hazelton-like ordinance.

Thankfully the ordinance was voted down. The Council didn't even wait until the next meeting when a second reading was scheduled. I don't think they wanted another meeting with 1000+ attendees and 70+ speakers.

My hat's off to the Fremont City Council, especially the Mayor, for doing the right thing!

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