June 19, 2007
Preliminary Injunction Entered Barring Farmers Branch Immigration Ordinance From Going Into Effect
The Bickel & Brewer Storefront, on behalf of several apartment owners and managers, today obtained an injunction in federal court against Ordinance 2903 – the so-called "illegal immigration ordinance" in Farmers Branch, Texas. Ordinance 2903 aimed to prevent the renting of apartments to certain immigrants. The federal court’s injunction today prohibits the city’s enforcement of the ordinance until trial. Ordinance 2903 was adopted by the City of Farmers Branch in January 2007 and approved by Farmers Branch voters on May 12, 2007. On May 21, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Lindsay granted a temporary restraining order to the Storefront plaintiffs and plaintiffs represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In his order the judge stated the court "fully understands the frustration of cities attempting to address a national problem that the federal government should handle; however, such frustration, no matter how great, cannot serve as a basis to pass an ordinance that conflicts with federal law." Following a formal hearing on June 5, counsel for plaintiffs and the City of Farmers Branch submitted final briefings to the court. Judge Lindsay took those filings under advisement for several days before issuing an order today that was similar to the relief granted in May. The court stated in its order, "Given that the court has determined at this juncture that the Ordinance is preempted by the Constitution and is void for vagueness, the public interest is served by enjoining the effective date and enforcement of a local law that the court has initially determined to be at odds with the Constitution." The court ultimately agreed with the Storefront’s central argument that the ordinance is preempted by federal law and, therefore, unconstitutional because it regulates immigration, which can only be performed by the federal government. The Storefront also successfully proved that the ordinance denies apartment owners and mangers due process of law by subjecting them to criminal penalties without providing necessary guidance on how they must comply with the ordinance. This federal action marks one of three lawsuits filed by the Storefront against the City of Farmers Branch. The Storefront has filed two state court actions alleging that the city violated the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) in conjunction with Ordinance 2903 and its predecessor, Ordinance 2892. Working closely with key community stakeholders, the Storefront also helped spearhead a grassroots coalition that opposes the ordinance on account of its being unconstitutional, costly and unenforceable.
For a copy of the order, click Download memorandum_opinion_and_order_granting_preliminary_injunction.pdf
Thanks to Rose V for the scoop!
June 19, 2007 | Permalink
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The argument that the regulation of immigration is a plenary power of the federal government is simply not true, so any rulings made to this effect are simply without foundation. The Constitution grants the federal government the power to establish uniform naturalization laws. This was done out a necessity, as the Articles of Confederation were inadequate to prevent conflicts between different states on this issue. If it is so evident from a review of the Constitution that the regulation of immigration is the sole purview of the federal government, then why were the states allowed to run their own immigration programs decades after the ratification of the Constitution in 1789? Would anyone argue that the Founding Fathers had immediately beome addled and forgotten what they had written, and that suddenly, late in 19th century subsequent courts had an epiphany? The answer is that the federal government's claims to such powers is truly weak and subsequent federal court rulings to that effect have all the stability of a house of cards. Another red herring referred to in this recent ruling is Henderson v. Mayor, a case which involved the court ruling that the transportation of immigrants is commerce, and so the court invoked the Commerce Clause. Most of us today would find this a stretch, and instead, might even deign to call this immigration. It's interesting to note that New York, in defense of the possibility that some of the new Irish immigrants would become beggars, tried to assess a per capita tax on each passenger on the ship that brought them to this country. That's ironic, because one of the claims that today's anti-amnesty people make is that the poor among the illegal aliens will ultimately obtain financial assistance from the 60 welfare programs and cost the citizen taxpayer $3.00 for every $1.00 in taxes illegal aliens contribute to our Treasury. We have to wonder how a sane court would rule on Hederson v. Mayor today. I'll address the recent courts other rationals later, but one does have to pause to think what the Founding Fathers would have thought of the court's use of the Consitution to mitigate the primacy of the citizen over the illegal alien.
Posted by: Horace | Jun 19, 2007 5:08:16 PM