By NATE JENKINS , Associated Press
LINCOLN, Neb. – Anne Hobbs was angry. The head of the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission had just learned of a Hispanic couple who said their landlord asked for their driver’s licenses — but didn’t ask the same of non-Hispanic tenants.
Hobbs said it sounded like the couple were “treated differently than everybody else because of national origin,” and sent the case to the state’s top prosecutor, hoping he would sue on their behalf under fair housing laws.
When Attorney General Jon Bruning received the case, he was angry, too — for a different reason than Hobbs.
“I’m not going to use taxpayer dollars to file lawsuits for illegal aliens,” said Bruning after learning the couple was in the U.S. illegally. “You’re not going to get a free lawyer” from his office, he said, “if you’re not a citizen of this country.”
Critics say Bruning’s legal rationale is so off-base that he may end up in court after all — and not as a prosecutor. Immigration activists suggest they may be laying the groundwork for a first-of-its kind lawsuit, with Bruning as the defendant. see how the pro-illegals la raza torment anyone who tries to enforce the laws?
Bruning, a Republican who has made no secret of his ambition for higher office, argues that the federal 1996 welfare reform law prohibits him from providing legal services to illegal immigrants. He points to a section that says only legal residents should get state or local public benefits. The law defines them to include welfare, disability and health services.
It doesn’t mention legal services, but Bruning believes they are included in wording that denies “any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household or family eligibility unit.”
Immigration advocates say the interpretation is unprecedented and mean-spirited, and that discrimination should be prosecuted regardless of the victim’s immigration status.
“No public official has ever taken the position that anti-discrimination protections are equal to welfare benefits,” said Jonathan Blazer, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center.
The couple ultimately asked Bruning not to prosecute because they feared it would draw the attention of immigration authorities.
hows that race card working for you illegal aliens????I cant believe how uppity illegal aliens and immigrants in general are- \Their names have not been publicly released.
But any legal showdown over the case could help define just how far attorneys general can push against illegal immigrants while staying on the right side of the law.
Raul Gonzalez, legislative director of the National Council of La Raza, a national Hispanic rights group, said Bruning’s interpretation would allow people to “run wild over immigrants.”
Under Bruning’s logic, he said, prosecutors would not seek justice against someone who ran a red light and injured an illegal immigrant.
“They’re basically saying it’s open season on undocumented immigrants,” Gonzalez said. no it isnt , if it were the illegals would leave because we would have their bodies hung as trophies, but Americans are nice and let foreign nationals walk all over them .
Bruning’s office said that’s not the case.
“It’s ridiculous to compare prosecuting criminal cases using taxpayer dollars to filing a lawsuit seeking damages from a private citizen for the benefit of illegal aliens,” said Bruning’s chief deputy, David Cookson.
Bruning agrees with the groups that the law protects illegal immigrants from discrimination. But he said he isn’t legally obligated to prosecute on their behalf, and that they should seek legal counsel elsewhere.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said it is investigating the issue, but stopped short of saying it would file a lawsuit against Bruning. Blazer, of the National Immigration Law Center, said his group “hasn’t contemplated” legal action, but it may talk with groups in Nebraska about how to handle the issue.
The National Council of La Raza does not file lawsuits.
Bruning’s refusal to take on cases involving illegal immigrants threatens the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission’s federal funding, commission officials say.
But if the commission were to lose federal backing, the cases would be investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The U.S. attorney for Nebraska, Joe Stecher, said that whether someone is in the U.S. illegally would not figure into his decision on whether to prosecute discrimination cases.
Ron Haskins, a former welfare adviser to President Bush who worked on the 1996 welfare overhaul as a congressional staff director, said the welfare reform law was meant to deny legal services to illegal immigrants.
But it is appropriate to spend public money on issues that “advance the interests of society,” he said. higher rents because illegals live here to the tune of 28 million is not in the best interests of society.
“If I was a citizen of the state,” he said when told about Bruning’s position, “I’d think, what’s in the interests of the community?” the Best Interests of the community is strong borders and deportation and no more immigration. E-Verify and the Save act are also in the best interests.
“Even if a person is here illegally, we should enforce the law.” yes we should by arresting and deporting them.