Small Nebraska Town May Raise Taxes To Defend Immigration Law

IMMIGRANT TUITIONThe Omaha World Herald reports that the Fremont City Council in Nebraska will consider a 2011 budget that includes property tax hikes to help pay for the defense of the city’s recently voted-approved anti-immigrant law which imposes a ban on hiring or renting property to undocumented immigrants in the small community of 25,000 people. Both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) sued on the basis that the ordinance is discriminatory. Officials have estimated that the cost of implementation, including defending it in court, will average $1 million per year. As a result, Fremont taxpayers are now facing a potential 18 percent increase in property taxes:

A proposed property tax hike to defend Fremont’s controversial immigration law is heading to the City Council. The council at its Aug. 31 meeting will consider a 2011 budget that includes $750,000 to help pay the projected annual cost of defending the voter-approved ordinance. The public will have an opportunity to comment. […]

City Administrator Robert Hartwig said the council most likely will not vote on the proposed 18 percent increase in the city’s portion of the property tax rate until Sept. 14. If approved, the owner of a $200,000 house would pay about $116 more in taxes next year.

Fremont’s controversial ordinance was written and will be defended by the same lawyer who wrote Arizona’s tough immigration law, Kris Kobach of the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) — the legal arm of a designated hate group. Besides fluffing Kobach’s pay check, the city of Fremont will be expected to cover his travel and lodging fees, as well as outside assistance such as expert witnesses and support personnel.

Kobach, who is also running for Kansas Secretary of State, touts the role he has played in fighting ACLU lawsuits in Hazleton, PA and Farmers Branch, TX on his campaign website. However, what he doesn’t mention is the profit he has made off of the exorbitant costs associated with defending the legally questionable legislation he credits himself with writing. Farmers Branch, a small town of 30,000 people, has spent $3.2 million to repeal a federal district judge decision which deemed the town’s rental ban ordinance unconstitutional and may have to spend an additional $623,000 this year. It appears Hazleton will also be on the hook for the $2.4 million it has acquired in attorneys fees. A federal judge struck down Hazleton’s law and the city’s mayor, who “has no regrets,” predicts that costs could rise at least another $2 million if it loses at the federal appeals court level.