Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nebraska town votes on plan for licences for immigrants

A Nebraska town, angry over a surge in the number of Hispanic residents, is voting today in a referendum on a new law that would require foreign nationals to get a licence to live in the town.

The referendum in Fremont has been prompted by a sharp rise in Hispanic people drawn by work at meatpacking plants, combined with fears over job losses and demand placed on the town's social services because of the economic downturn. If approved, tenants who are not US-citizens would be required to get an "occupancy licence" from the city council. Even residents of nursing homes would be required to obtain such a licence.

Federal law requires employers to verify the immigration status of workers, but the proposed law would also open violators to local sanctions. Supporters insist it is not racist and is essential to protect jobs, healthcare and education because the town's Hispanic population has grown from 165 to more than 2,000 in 20 years.

It is unclear what proportion of those are in the US illegally, but the big meatpacking plants where many work say they only employ people whose immigrant status has been verified.

The Fremont Tribune has reported cases of Hispanic people who are legal residents being verbally abused and told to return to Mexico.

From the Guardian.

No comments: