Scribner, Nebraska Approves Anti-Illegal Alien Housing and Employment Ordinance
By David Jaroslav | November 9, 2018
The voters of the eastern Nebraska city of Scribner, roughly 50 miles from Omaha, have overwhelmingly adopted a new ordinance against renting to or employing illegal aliens. It passed with more than 69 percent support, or greater than two to one. And given its language and history, it is also very likely to withstand any court challenges.
The city council put the ordinance on the November ballot for the voters’ consideration back in July. In summary, it does the following:
- Forbids illegal aliens from entering into residential rental contracts or leases;
- Requires a $5 occupancy license for each occupant of a residential rental property over the age of 18, with either a sworn declaration by the occupant that he or she is a US citizen, or an identification number issued to the occupant by the federal government establishing that he or she is lawfully present in the United States;
- Imposes a $100 fine on each occupant who doesn’t obtain the occupancy license;
- Imposes a $100 per day fine on each landlord who rents to anyone without the occupancy license, starting 45 days after notice from the city;
- Requires the police department to contact federal authorities to verify immigration status of anyone who obtains the occupancy license but indicates they are not a U.S. citizen; if the police are notified the person is not lawfully present, they are to revoke the occupancy license, with 45 days’ notice;
- Requires use of E-Verify by any employer who: 1) applies for a business license in the city; 2) contracts to do work in the city; or 3) applies for a grant or loan from the city;
- Requires use of E-Verify by all city agencies with respect to their own employees;
- Allows the city attorney to bring suit against employers for failing to use E-Verify with respect to each employee, to revoke business licenses, cancel contracts, recall grants, accelerate loans, enjoin their operation, etc.; and
- Provides for judicial review of both the rental and E-Verify provisions.
The ordinance is modeled word-for-word on the nearby city of Fremont’s Ordinance 5165, which was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 2013 (read the court’s opinion and the Immigration Reform Law Institute’s explanation of the case history). Both Fremont’s and Scribner’s residents have been concerned that the opening of large new businesses in the area, particularly a Coscto chicken-processing plant, may bring with them an influx of illegal aliens.
Opponents have unsurprisingly condemned the ordinance in exactly the usual scripted language to be expected of the open-borders crowd. Danielle Conrad, for instance, Executive Director of the Nebraska ACLU, said “it risks racial profiling and discrimination.”
But Scribner Mayor Ken Thomas spoke for the ordinance’s supporters, saying “[w]e certainly are not going to be discriminate against anyone … If you’re here lawfully, you have nothing to worry about.”
Especially given the previous success of the same language in Fremont, larger local communities or even whole states may want to consider similar legislation.