- - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says America should celebrate Cinco de Mayo by enacting an amnesty for illegal aliens. The U.S. Supreme Court celebrated the Mexican national holiday this week with a brighter idea.

The justices let stand a lower-court decision enabling municipal discrimination against lawbreakers. The city of Fremont, Neb., had adopted an ordinance barring landlords from renting apartments to illegal aliens. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the ordinance in a decision that is now binding.

“This is a final and complete victory for Fremont,” Kris W. Kobach, the ordinance author who is also the secretary of state of Kansas, said on hearing the news. “It is beyond question that every city in the [states of the] 8th Circuit has the ability to adopt the Fremont ordinance, word for word.” On Facebook, Mr. Kobach said, “The ACLU has been defeated.”

Enacted by voters four years ago, Fremont Ordinance 5165 has survived numerous legal challenges. An attempt to repeal the ordinance by popular vote in February failed, when nearly 60 percent of the voters ratified it.

The Fremont statute requires prospective tenants to obtain a $5 occupancy license and declare their immigration status before they can rent a residence. Police in Fremont, population 25,000, are enabled to check an occupancy license against a federal list of illegal aliens. When it finds one, the license is revoked.

The ordinance includes provisions requiring “all entities doing business in the city of Fremont that employ one or more persons” to register in the E-Verify program. Such an entity must “execute an affidavit stating that [it doesn’t] knowingly employ any person who is an unauthorized alien.” These measures were not challenged, but legal challenges of the rental provisions required the city to solicit donations to a legal defense fund. Fremont is the county seat of Dodge County, so the ordinance tells illegals to “get out of Dodge.”

Liberals usually like criminal background checks, such as checks for prospective buyers of guns, but not to uncover lawbreakers in houses and apartment houses. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund argued before the appeals court that the ordinance is racist and unconstitutional. A three-judge lower court panel disagreed, and concluded that the ordinance neither discriminates against Hispanics nor interferes with federal immigration laws.

The losers in court vow to monitor enforcement of the ordinance and promise new lawsuits if tenants report discrimination. “There has to be a very serious opposition to these kinds of laws,” says Thomas Saenz, the general counsel of the defense fund, “because they’re anti-business and anti-human rights.”

Patchwork enforcement of immigration law is not the way to the rule of law, and the Fremont ordinance wouldn’t be necessary if the Obama administration would do its duty and effectively enforce the law at the border. The nation’s greatest strength is the regulated tide of immigrants, with its invitation to the melting pot. Immigrants who follow the rules are hurt most by the official conveyance of favors and subsidies to those who cheat the system.