AG's refusal to take illegal immigrants' case threatens federal funding

LINCOLN, Neb. (Legal Newsline)-Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning's failure to prosecute a case on behalf of two illegal immigrants could cost the state federal funding aimed at fighting discrimination.

Earlier this month, after the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission forwarded him the latest case involving the illegal immigrants, Bruning said the state should consider shutting down the commission entirely.

Taxpayer money, he added, should not be used to pursue a case on behalf of an illegal immigrant, even if there was a legitimate complaint.

A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday that it would no longer reimburse the state for pursuing discrimination cases and would stop forwarding complaints it receives to the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission.

The Nebraska commission would lose $240,000 annually if federal officials stop paying the state for each complaint it investigates.

In addition to fair housing complaints, the commission also investigates cases of alleged job discrimination and public accommodation cases.

The commission says it has forwarded 41 cases to Bruning's office, but only one was prosecuted and none has gone to trial. Bruning's office, however, says it has actually pursued 22 of the 58 cases it has received from the commission.

In a statement, Bruning said his office and the commission reached an understanding Thursday on how to proceed with reviewing and prosecuting housing discrimination cases.

He said following Thursday's meeting, he has "confidence that we share a common goal of prosecuting only those cases where discrimination can be proven in court."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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