Neb. town may halt immigration law to save money

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Faced with expensive legal challenges, officials in the eastern Nebraska town of Fremont are considering suspending a voter-approved ban on hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants until the lawsuits are resolved.

The City Council narrowly rejected the ban in 2008, prompting supporters to gather enough signatures for the ballot measure. The ordinance, which was approved by voters last month, has divided the community. Supporters say it was necessary to make up for what they see as lax federal law enforcement and opponents argue that it could fuel discrimination.

But the council's president, Scott Getzschman, insisted the elected body was concerned about money, not about any lack of support for the ordinance. The City Council is scheduled to vote on suspending the ban on Tuesday night, a day before the city goes to court over the measure.

The city faces lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund. City officials have estimated that Fremont's costs of implementing the ordinance — including legal fees, employee overtime and improved computer software — would average $1 million a year.

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