Last night, voters in Fremont, Nebraska, made their town of 25,000 famous by passing an anti-immigrant law—authored by the same far-right lobbyist who wrote Arizona’s racial profiling law—that criminalizes renting homes to undocumented immigrants.
The AP reported that the measure passed with 57 percent of voters’ approval. It requires all renters to register with the police to get the right to take up residence in the town. Landlords who are caught renting to undocumented immigrants would be sanctioned, as would employers who hire undocumented immigrants. These purported small-town defenders are not new. Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas, have also gained notoriety in the last five years for passing strikingly similar legislation, which has been challenged in the courts.
But these bills aren’t popping up coincidentally. The Fremont law was written with the help of Kris Kobach, the far-right immigration restrictionist who crafted Arizona’s SB 1070 and has had a hand in many of the Arizona copycat bills that are being picked up around the country.
ColorLines’ Seth Wessler reported in May on the decidedly un-grassroots movement behind these myriad anti-immigrant bills:
[The] FAIR network is no mere collection of researchers and legal advocates. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, FAIR has accepted more than $1 million in grants from the Pioneer Fund, which espouses a connection between race and intelligence and has supported eugenics projects for more than 70 years. In 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center added FAIR to its list of organized hate groups because of FAIR and Tanton’s connections with white supremacist organizations and funders.
It’s now clear that the Arizona law emerged because FAIR and a number of its organizational offspring used the Grand Canyon State as a staging ground for the first in what they hoped would be an onslaught of similar state laws. In at least seven of the 11 states where SB 1070-like legislation has been introduced or where legislators have said they’re drafting it, the lawmakers behind the efforts are members of FAIR’s state legislators’ group.
We’ll update Seth’s tracking of the right’s effort to spread anti-immigrant local laws later this week.