Check back with Omaha.com for updates after Tuesday's Fremont City Council meeting.
Read more about U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Smith Camp's Feb. 20 ruling: Part of Fremont immigration law tossed
LINCOLN (AP) - Opponents of a Fremont city immigration ordinance promised Tuesday to appeal a federal judge's ruling that kept in place a requirement that potential renters prove their citizenship or legal status.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska said it would challenge the decision, which struck down another part of the ordinance that would have allowed the city to revoke the rental licenses of illegal immigrants.
The Fremont City Council is expected to meet in closed session Tuesday night to discuss how to proceed with the ruling, which still would allow the city to charge a $5 free for a renter's license, if it takes effect. The city has voluntarily suspended the ordinance at ACLU Nebraska's request while the lawsuit works its way through the courts.
ACLU Nebraska filed the lawsuit on behalf of five renters in Fremont, a city of 26,000 about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, as well as two landlords and two local employers. The case will go to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Amy Miller, ACLU Nebraska's legal director, told the council in a letter Tuesday that the appeal could last at least another year. Miller said the lawsuit plaintiffs still believe "that the entire ordinance is an illegal use of city power."
The ordinance stirred a whirlwind of controversy in June 2010 when roughly 57 percent of Fremont voters who turned up at the polls supported it. The measure catapulted the city into the national spotlight and spurred comparisons with Arizona and some cities embroiled in the debate over immigration regulations.
Fremont has seen its Hispanic population surge in the past two decades, largely due to the jobs available at the Fremont Beef and Hormel plants, which are just outside the city. Census data show the number of Hispanics soared from 165 in 1990 to 1,085 in 2000 and 3,149 in 2010.
It's unknown how many illegal immigrants live in the city. According to census figures, 1,259 noncitizens live there, a figure that includes illegal immigrants as well as lawful permanent residents, foreign students and refugees in the U.S. legally.
The measure won't have any effect beyond the city limits of Fremont. That means two major meatpacking plants and some neighborhoods, including some with large immigrant populations, won't be covered by the requirements for businesses to use the federal E-Verify database to ensure employees are legal or by housing permit rules for renters.
The ordinance adds some red tape for businesses and residents in the city. The judge said Fremont can require companies to use the free federal E-Verify system to verify the citizenship status of people they hire. It can also require potential renters to swear they are legal residents and pay $5 to obtain a renting permit. But the city won't be able to revoke the rental permits if applicants are found to be illegal immigrants.
The vote — and the attention it brought — took an immediate political toll. The City Council president, mayor, city attorney and city administrator all resigned within a year, citing various reasons.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.