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Jul 8, 2010

 Today I feel ashamed to be a Nebraskan. After Monday's vote (June 21) in Fremont it is clear that many people of this state wish to position us alongside Arizona as a beacon of intolerance and bigotry. Such positioning will hurt every Nebraskan in the long run. The new ordinance - which bans the harboring, hiring of and renting to undocumented immigrants - is unenforceable, economically wasteful and as the wave of impending lawsuits will prove, unconstitutional. More importantly, it is morally wrong. Like Arizona's SB1070, Ordinance No. 5165 is motivated primarily by racism. I wish the people of Fremont would just come out and say that they would prefer to live in an all-white town. While many attempts have and will be made to disguise this deplorable reality, it is disingenuous to pretend this is about anything other than skin color. The ordinance will do nothing to solve Fremont's imagined illegal immigration problem or change their already low unemployment and crime rates. What it will do is create more divisiveness and tension in their community. It sends a clear message to all Hispanic people, citizens or not, that they are not welcome in Nebraska. One of the arguments made by supporters of the ordinance is based on the assumption that most immigrants in Fremont are undocumented workers who enjoy the unfair advantage of not paying taxes. This assumption is completely false. To begin with, the majority of immigrants who work at the Hormel and Fremont beef plants (which ironically lie outside the measure's jurisdiction) are here working legally, with federally provided ID numbers. They most certainly do pay taxes. The smaller population who are illegal workers are using false or stolen social security numbers, and many are in fact paying into the system without any real prospect of benefiting from services like unemployment, because they live in fear of scrutiny of their legal status. Fear is the key word here. The truth of it is, the voters of Fremont don't so much want their Hispanic neighbors to leave outright, taking with them much of the economic growth the town has seen in the past decade, but rather become invisible and live in constant fear of their superior white neighbors. Do as you're told or else. One telltale sign of this is in the hiring section of the new law, which makes an exception to the ban for "the intermittent hiring of casual labor for domestic tasks." Essentially what the voting majority in Fremont is saying to their Latino population is, clean our toilets and mow our lawns, but stay in your place. They are not fit to rent a home but they are fit to clean one. This law is even more radical than Arizona's, in that it not only gives local police, but private citizens as well, free rein to intimidate and discriminate against their fellow citizens or non-citizens purely on the basis of their appearance and presumed legal status. It deputizes any average Joe as an ICE agent charged with keeping the streets free from any signs of diversity or culture that is not of Anglo descent, encouraging people to act out of suspicion and ignorance. What Kris Kobach (the Kansas-based author of both the Fremont and Arizona laws) and those like him ultimately want to create is a New American Apartheid system where the immigrant is a subhuman player in society: a person with few-to-no rights, whose sole purpose is to service the interests of corporate America and the white population, and who can be disposed of through detention or deportation at a moment's notice. It is class warfare, pure and simple. This line of thinking is an evil and pervasive magic, and the people of Fremont are the latest to fall under its spell. The new law is a black eye on their town and our state. It is embarrassing. It is wrong. - Conor Oberst 08 Jul 2010

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Posted: Thursday July 8, 2010, 1:25 pm
Tags: op/ed conoroberst immigrationlaw [add/edit tags]

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Robert C. (7)
Monday July 26, 2010, 4:34 am
Well... despite how tired I am of hearing from (or about) Conor Oberst, I have got to give it up for his comments on this situation. Nicole and I had interest in attending that related benefit show but the tickets are apparently sold out already. Oh well. Thanks for sharing this article, Mom!

p.s. For the record, I was ashamed to be a Nebraskan way before it was "cool"... :-P


Judy C.
female, age 64, single, 3 children
Omaha, NE, USA
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