[JURIST] City council members in Farmers Branch, Texas [official website] voted Monday to approve several anti-immigration measures including making English the town's official language [Res. No. 2006-130 text], imposing fines for landlords who rent to illegal aliens [Ordinance No. 2892 text], and permitting local police to screen suspects in custody. The unanimous 6-0 vote was taken prior to public comment, while individuals in favor of the law gathered inside the city hall and opponents to the measure protested in the lobby and outside the building. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund [advocacy group] warned the council that the new rules could violate the First Amendment and federal housing laws prohibiting discrimination. The fund plans to review the measures more thoroughly to determine whether to bring a lawsuit against the Dallas suburb, which is 37 percent Hispanic.
Farmers Branch is the first Texas city to pass such a tough anti-immigration measure, but over 50 municipalities across the US have contemplated similar laws. The city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania [official website] earlier this year passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act [PDF text] and Landlord Tenant Ordinance [PDF text], which would impose a $1,000 initial fine against landlords who rent to illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive] and would require tenants to register their personal contact information and pay $10 for rental permits. A federal judge has blocked [JURIST report] the Hazleton measures from taking effect, however, while the court considers the merits of a legal challenge [JURIST report] against the measures. AP has more.