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Fremont officials are reviewing the two lawsuits filed against the city Wednesday that challenge the city's voter-approved illegal immigration ordinance.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska filed lawsuits Wednesday on behalf of several Fremont residents and two landlords.

"We are reviewing the lawsuits and what they say," City Administrator Bob Hartwig said. "It will take a day or two to look at it."

The lawsuits were expected.

"In every other city ... there have been lawsuits," Hartwig said. "This came as no surprise."

Both lawsuits seek to prevent the city from implement the ordinance that would ban the renting to and hiring of illegal immigrants. It is set to take effect July 29.

Both lawsuits claim the ordinance violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; the equal protection clause and due process clause of the 14th Amendment; and the Fair Housing Act.

Additionally, both complaints claim the city exceeded municipal authority granted to it in Article XI of the Nebraska Constitution.

"Divisive ordinances like these tear communities apart," Jennifer Chang Newell, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, said in the press release announcing its lawsuit. "It's time to stop promoting discriminatory policies like these so that we can come together to find a national approach to immigration."

In its press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit, MALDEF stated it did so "to protect immigrants from unlawful, local regulation of immigration, contravening constitutional and federal authority."

State Sen. Charlie Janssen was quick to offer comment on the lawsuit.

"Let's make it clear that the unlawful parties here are the immigrants that chose to break federal and state laws by coming here illegally in the first place," Janssen wrote in a prepared statement. "The bottom line is that they are not ‘undocumented workers,' they are illegal aliens.

"The Fremont ordinance was lawfully voted in by the citizens of Fremont in an effort to enforce laws that the federal government has neglected to enforce for decades," he added.

Fremont voters on June 21 approved the ordinance that would require renters to obtain occupancy licenses and businesses with one or more employees to use the federal E-Verify system.

Still ahead for Fremont officials is picking legal counsel. There have been several offers, including one from attorney Kris Kobach, who has worked on similar cases in Hazleton, Pa., and Farmers Branch, Texas.

Hartwig said a decision on legal counsel likely won't be made until August.


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