Fremont police began issuing occupancy licenses Thursday as part of the city's ordinance aimed at combating illegal immigration.
Fremont is one of a handful of cities trying to restrict illegal immigration and, like those other cities, has found itself mired in court fights because of the regulations. City leaders put the ordinance on hold after the 2010 vote while courts reviewed it. A portion requiring employers to use the federal E-Verify system already has been implemented.
In February, nearly 60 percent of voters decided to keep the housing portion of the ordinance. Police Chief Jeff Elliott says each rental property occupant 18 or older must obtain an occupancy license. The ordinance doesn't affect people living in rentals before Thursday.
Now, if you want to rent a place to live in Fremont, it will cost you an extra $5 to get a renters permit.
Anyone who wants to rent a home or an apartment in Fremont will have to fill out an application for occupancy license. You can pick up an application at the Fremont Police Department.
The applications are available in Spanish and in English. Each person, 18 or older, who is renting must fill one out.
The new law has some Fremont landlords asking a lot of questions. Fremont has been debating restrictions on illegal immigration for years and both sides have been vocal.
Fremont resident Alicia Schultz said, “We have to do things the way the law says. You just can’t do things illegally and get away with them.”
Eugene Nicholson said, “I think it’s a bad idea. I think it makes Fremont look kind of backward, shall we say. Makes landlords on the hook for what the government should have down in the first place. I think it’s a bad idea and makes us look bad nationwide, everywhere.”
No matter how it makes Fremont look, the police must enforce the new law. Police Chief Jeff Elliott said, “Right now we will deal with that on a complaint basis. As we get complaints we'll go out and we'll look into those.”
The chief said he doesn’t know if the enforcement will ever become more aggressive. “I have no idea,” he said. “I can’t speculate on that.”
Landlords who violate the law will be hit with a $100 fine every day for each violation.
The Fremont Police will notify the federal government if they discover a renter is unlawfully in the U.S. The ordinance has no penalties for occupants who are in violation.