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Neb. city to enforce immigration law

LINCOLN, Neb. — Officials in a small Nebraska city were preparing Wednesday to enforce voter-approved illegal immigration rules, despite the threat of federal lawsuits after the measure goes into effect.

Fremont officials said that police will start enforcing the measure 30 days after the results of a special city election are certified. Nearly 60 percent of voters decided Tuesday to keep the ordinance, which requires renters to get a $5 permit and swear they have legal permission to live in the United States.

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Jennifer Bixby, Fremont’s City Council president, said officials would respect the voters’ decision on the measure, which was first approved by a smaller margin in 2010. Critics pushed for the new vote, saying the housing restrictions would be ineffective and might cost Fremont millions of dollars in legal fees and lost federal grants. They also said it was hurting the city’s image.

‘‘The council now feels comfortable that the community has knowledge of both the short- and long-term costs to implement this,’’ Bixby said.

The results could be certified at the council’s next meetings on Feb. 25 or March 11.

Amy Miller, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said her group will keep close tabs on the city and will consider a new lawsuit if tenants report discrimination. A federal appeals panel upheld the ordinance in June but left an opening for future suits if people can show that the rules have resulted in discrimination.

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