Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rust Never Sleeps: Farmers Branch Wants Back in the Immigration Business

As we previously reported, the Dallas, Texas suburb of Farmers Branch has been Farmers_branchstruggling to pass an ordinace directed at undocumented immigrants only to face resistance in the courts.  Now, the city is considering a new way to stop rentals of housing to undocumented immigrants. The proposed ordinance is intended to address legal concerns raised by opponents of Ordinance 2903, which the city's voters approved overwhelmingly in May 2007 but which has been held up by challenges in federal court.

Next Tuesday, the City Council will consider the new ordinance.  The ordinance would require all adults to apply for a city license before they could lease a house or apartment in the city. To obtain the license, they would have to state whether they are U.S. citizens or noncitizens in the country legally. Anyone submitting the form and paying a $5 fee would immediately receive an occupancy license and be allowed to move in. The information would be checked against a federal database. If federal authorities fail to confirm that a renter was here legally, he or she would have 60 days to prove legal residency. Failure to do so would lead to revocation of the occupancy license. Violations by tenants or landlords could face fines of up to $500 per day.

The ordinance would take effect when the federal district court issues a final judgment in the case challenging Ordinance 2903. That lawsuit, brought by apartment management and tenants, contends that Ordinance 2903 is unconstitutional and that it would force apartment management to make judgments about renters' immigration status. The suit also contends that the ordinance defined who is here legally differently than federal law does. City Manager Gary Greer said the new proposal rectifies some of the concerns.

For a news story about the new ordinace, click here.   For the draft ordinance and related materials, see Download farmers_branch_ordinance.pdf Download farmers_branch_news_release.doc  Download farmers_branch_background_revised_ordinance.doc

Thanks to Rose Villazor (SMU) for the tip!


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