While busy running a general store that caters to the growing number of Latinos in this Nebraska meatpacking town, Alfredo Velez had new concerns Tuesday after his neighbors voted for an ordinance to crack down on illegal immigrants.
To Velez, the vote a day earlier in Fremont to ban hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants sent a clear message: "We're not welcome here," said Velez, a native of Mexico who became a U.S. citizen in 1985.
As a business owner, though, he worried about his store, Guerrero, which sells food and other products from Mexico and Central America.
"How much more in taxes am I going to have to pay for this thing to go to court?" wondered Velez, 56. "We're all going to have to pay for it, no matter what color our skin is."
With roughly 57 percent of voters supporting the ordinance, Fremont joins Arizona and a few other cities in the national debate over immigration regulations. The community about 35 miles northwest of Omaha has seen its Hispanic population surge in the past two decades, largely due to the jobs available at the nearby Fremont Beef and Hormel plants.
Supporters argued the measure was necessary to make up for what they see as lax federal law enforcement. Trevor McClurg said the measure is fair because it's aimed at people who aren't legally in the U.S.