A large mural in Fremont, Nebraska depicts all manner of individuals holding or waving American flags — apparently to show that this city of 25,000 in the country’s heartland stands for freedom and liberty. The reality, based on a vote of its citizens on Monday, is quite different. According to the new law, no one in Fremont will be able to rent or lease a home, apartment, or even a bedroom in an assisted-living center, without first applying for and being granted an “occupancy permit” from the local police.
Let me repeat — in the “All-American” town of Fremont, Nebraska, before anyone over the age of 18 can rent or lease a house, apartment, or room (or even move from one rented room to another one), they will have to go to the police, fill out an application, pay a fee, and obtain a permit in order to avoid criminal charges being brought against them and/or the person who rents to them.
The rationale for enacting this outrageous and what in an earlier time would be termed “un-American” edict, is — of course — fighting the influx of illegal aliens into the town; drawn to Fremont as well as to other locales across the country by the need for cheap labor. However, the grossly disparate and overly broad manner in which Fremont’s citizens have chosen to address this problem, ought to worry Americans everywhere. The fact that such an ordinance could be enacted and supported proudly by a majority of citizens in any part of the United States, apparently with no understanding of or concern for what it does to undermine the very notion of liberty and freedom, should serve as a clarion call to Americans everywhere that the very foundational principles of our country and our Constitution are in imminent danger.
Fremont’s action follows by several weeks the enactment of a law in Arizona that in essence empowers police in that state to stop anyone, any time, any where to demand their citizenship papers. The Arizona law, already under constitutional challenge, is being hailed by many so-called “conservative” and Republican office holders and candidates across the country, as an appropriate way to address the problem of illegal immigrants in the country. At a recent candidates forum in Georgia, for example, each GOP gubernatorial candidate expressed support for the Peach State enacting a measure similar or identical to Arizona’s law, and which would also empower local police to stop individuals and demand to see citizenship papers.
Regardless of whether laws such as those enacted in Arizona or Fremont, Nebraska are stricken down as offensive to our Constitution, the fact that they apparently enjoy the support of a majority of Americans and of many public officials and candidates, is deeply troublesome. Such measures clearly illustrate that a majority of Americans are willing to grant far-reaching – even arbitrary — powers to law enforcement to infringe their liberty simply to salve their concern over policy disputes.