Kobach prevails in appellate ruling on Nebraska city’s immigration limits

A federal appeals panel on Friday upheld a Nebraska city’s ban on renting to people who aren’t in the U.S. legally, allowing the town of Fremont to begin enforcing its law.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped Fremont draft its ordinance and others around the country, lauded Friday’s opinion.

He said it will have implications for two other cities, in Pennsylvania and Texas, that passed similar laws, saw them thwarted in court and have filed appeals.

“And I think it has indirect implications for cities all across the country ... that may wish to take similar steps to stop the negative effects of illegal immigration,” said Kobach.

As soon as next week, Kobach said, Fremont will begin enforcing the part that requires all renters to apply for an occupancy permit and denies permits to people not legally in the U.S.

The ordinance catapulted Fremont into the national spotlight when voters approved it in June 2010. Last year, a federal judge ruled that provisions denying housing permits were discriminatory and interfered with federal law.

On Friday, two judges of a three-member panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that reasoning. One judge said the plaintiffs failed to show the law was intended to discriminate against Latinos.

The ruling appears counter to other court decisions on similar local laws, said Aaron Siebert-Llera, attorney for several U.S.-born Latino home renters and a Fremont landlord who challenged the law.

“You’ve got the U.S. Senate passing sweeping immigration reform. You’ve got this huge, nationwide change going on,” he said. “Then you have a decision like this coming out.”

Fremont already was enforcing a provision aimed at keeping illegal immigrants from being hired.