Voters in the eastern Nebraska city of Fremont on Monday approved a ban on hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants, the latest proposal in a series of immigration regulations taken up by communities around the country.That's the state of mind we've come to in America. A simple statement has to be preceded by a declaration you're not racist.
About 57 percent of voters in Fremont supported the proposal, according to unofficial results that still must be certified by the election commissioner. The measure is likely to face a long and costly court battle, with the American Civil Liberties Union saying it will try to block it before it even goes into effect.
The town of about 25,000 people has watched as its Hispanic population surged in the past two decades, largely due to the jobs available at the nearby Fremont Beef and Hormel meatpacking plants. The city also has an enviably low unemployment rate that matches the Nebraska rate of 4.9 percent.
Nonetheless, residents worry that jobs are going to illegal immigrants who they fear could drain community resources. Proponents of the ballot measure collected enough signatures and fought in the Nebraska Supreme Court to put the question to a public vote.
Supporters say the measure is needed to make up for what they see as lax federal law enforcement. Opponents say it could fuel discrimination.
Trevor McClurg said the measure is fair because it's aimed at people who aren't legally in the U.S.
"I don't think it's right to be able to rent to them or hire them," McClurg said. "They shouldn't be here in the first place."
Clint Walraven, 51, who has lived in Fremont all his life, said the jobs should go to legal residents who are unemployed -- something he believes the ordinance would help fix. Discussions on the issue can get heated, he said, particularly if racism is mentioned.
"It has nothing to do with being racist," said. "We all have to play by the same rules. ... If you want to stay here, get legal."
How sad. That's Barack Obama's America, or what's left of it.