The writer is the executive director of the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce.
As representatives of nearly 700 member organizations employing more than 10,000 people, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce is an organization whose sole mission is to improve business conditions and the quality of life in Fremont.
Together, working with other community-minded individuals and organizations, the Fremont Chamber strives to support or generate development opportunities and to remove barriers to growth.
It is in pursuit of these important goals that the Fremont Chamber’s board of directors determined that Ordinance 5165 (the “immigration ordinance”) should be amended.
In the board’s opinion, the ambiguous rent permit language embedded in the current version of the ordinance will be ineffective, while at the same time presenting unwarranted risks to taxpayers and to business vitality.
If implemented, the ordinance would limit our ability to attract investment and would impede creation of new jobs in Fremont. Moreover, setting aside its legal deficiencies, the ordinance divides our community, increases bureaucratic interference to free enterprise and diverts our attention from constructive activities that could produce positive results.
In other words, it will cost taxpayers much more than it can accomplish.
For tangible evidence, one needs to look no further than Farmer’s Branch, Texas, another community facing lawsuits and debilitating legal expenses to defend a similar ordinance authored by the same person responsible for the one now confronting Fremont.
In Farmer’s Branch, legal expenses — borne by taxpayers — have exceeded $6 million. City officials there are faced with difficult funding decisions like deferring street maintenance and cutting other essential services.
For those Fremonters who have argued for a strong local response to control illegal immigration, we understand your frustration. We share your passion to preserve Fremont as a wonderful place to live and work.
But we’re not in agreement that this ordinance will accomplish your intended goal or that the side effects, more certain to occur if enacted, are worth the message you’re trying to send.
However, we do believe that the ordinance can be amended — and improved — to produce results that safely and lawfully address our local concerns.
Our belief is that the E-Verify employment requirement in the ordinance, which has been implemented and also upheld by the courts, will be effective in staunching the flow — however big that may be — of undocumented workers into Fremont.
E-Verify has been widely used for several years by businesses in not only Fremont but also the surrounding area.
With this amendment to the rent permit language approved by Fremont voters, our community will be freed to vigorously pursue its goal of creating a vibrant, growing economy, the foundation for an improving quality of life.