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Scribner

A "Welcome to Scribner" sign greets travelers on U.S. 275. 

SCRIBNER — The town is seeking to bar employing or renting residences to people living in the U.S. illegally.

The Scribner City Council approved last month the first round of an ordinance designed to prohibit hiring and renting apartments or homes to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Scribner needs at least one more approving vote before the ordinance can go into effect.

Scribner Mayor Ken Thomas said the community is supportive of the ordinance.

"I have not had one person come up to me and question what's going on," Thomas said.

The push for such rules comes as the area prepares for an influx of workers for Costco's new chicken processing plant in Fremont.

The Costco plant will employ 1,000 workers when it opens next year and could change the face of Scribner's population, which is 96 percent white. Many officials interviewed for a state labor study have said the plant will likely require new residents to fill half the jobs, despite the study indicating that potential employees are already living in the area.

Danielle Conrad, the executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said the organization is considering a legal battle against the ordinance. She said the rule "invites racial profiling and risks increased harassment and discrimination."

Scribner's ordinance mirrors a similar ordinance in neighboring Fremont, which went into effect four years ago amid negative publicity.

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Fremont spent about $111,000 defending the city after ACLU of Nebraska filed a lawsuit over the ordinance. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2014 against hearing the ACLU's appeal, which affirmed the Fremont ordinance's legality.

Critics have said the ordinances create divisions over race and immigration.

"It has an impact on the reputation of a town," said Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute at the New York University School of Law. "No one wants to be known as a xenophobic town."

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