Two lawsuits were filed yesterday against the town of Fremont, Neb., seeking to overturn an ordinance banning illegal immigrants from renting homes or taking jobs.

Fremont, a rural town with a population of about 25,000, found itself at the frontline of the immigration debate when it passed the law in a special election last month.

It was due to go into effect July 29, but a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union seeks an immediate injunction while the legal battle ensues. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund also filed suit against the city.

About 45 percent of the town’s eligible voters turned out, approving the ordinance 57 percent to 43 percent. Supporters of the new law, which was put to a vote after a two-year debate, said it was needed because illegal immigrants were taking away jobs from legal workers and because the federal government has refused to take strong enough action against illegal immigration.

The ACLU’s lawsuit claims that the law is unconstitutional because immigration policy is the sole responsibility of the federal government. It also states that the measure risks racial profiling and fanning discrimination against anyone deemed to be foreign.