Enforcement of Fremont immigrant housing ordinance starts April 10

By David Hendee / World-Herald staff writer

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The clock is officially ticking on Fremont's enforcement of the city's controversial immigrant housing ordinance.

Police enforcement of the law begins April 10.

The Fremont City Council on Tuesday certified results of a special election in which 60 percent of voters endorsed the measure to stop illegal immigrants from renting housing.

The February vote was a resounding rejection of attempts by community business leaders and others to strike housing sections from the ordinance that thrust the community into the forefront of the national immigration policy debate.

The ordinance requires new renters to obtain a $5 permit from police. The ordinance also requires rental licenses for landlords.

The issue has festered in Fremont since the City Council first considered an ordinance aimed at banishing illegal immigrants from the community in 2008. Two years later, a citizen petition put the issue on the ballot, where it was approved. Enforcement of the housing sections were delayed during court challenges.

The matter ended up back on the ballot after the City Council voted in November 2013 to ask voters to amend the housing provisions out of the ordinance. Voters said no. Supporters of stripping out the housing provisions carried only one of Fremont's 20 voting precincts and the tally of early voters.

The only provision of the ordinance enforced so far is one that requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to certify the legal status of new employees.

Opponents of the ordinance have said it tarnishes Fremont's image, burdens local taxpayers with enforcement costs and threatens the city with loss of millions of dollars in federal community development funds.

Fremont's population of 26,000 is about 12 percent Hispanic.