Immigrants Face Discrimination, Abusive Fair Housing Policy In Nebraska

<p>In Nebraska, a state experiencing just a moderate level of Hispanic immigration inflow, Attorney General Jon Bruning has drawn the line on who he’ll protect from abusive housing policies and who he won’t. For him, immigrants simply aren’t worth it.</p>
May 8, 2008, 6am PDT | tnac
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"The Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission recently brought to Attorney General Jon Bruning's office a case involving Hispanic tenants who were asked for driver's licenses when non-Hispanic tenants weren't asked for the same. The tenants' seemed to have a legitimate grievance based off the Fair Housing Act's prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of national origin. But Bruning resentfully declined the case saying, 'I'm not going to use taxpayer dollars to file lawsuits for illegal aliens.'"

"Meanwhile, the original sin – a landlord requesting ID on a discriminatory basis – was buried."

"Bruning's refusal to take up Hispanic tenants' housing complaints has already cost the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission a threatened loss of funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Lawyers from both fair housing and immigrant advocacy groups are considering suing Bruning for abusing fair housing policy. Immigration cases have historically been the sole domain of federal government, but lately some federal courts have been affording state governments their own sway over immigration control."

"Last year, Bruning and Nebraska Governor David Heineman, both Republicans, tried to push legislation that would deny social service benefits to immigrants, but were denied by a committee from the unicameral legislature. Opposing immigrants collecting welfare benefits is one thing, but leaving families without housing would seem to come back and financially bite the state anyway if health, crime or other social costs are the consequences."

"Navigating the legality of Bruning's stance is mystifying. Immigrants are certainly covered by the 5th amendment (right of persons; no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law) and the 14th amendment (equal protection; no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws) even if undocumented. But the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on this as pertaining to the Fair Housing act."

Thanks to Brentin Mock

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Published on Monday, May 5, 2008 in The Next American City
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