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Texas apartment owners sue over local illegal immigration laws

[JURIST] Three Texas landlords filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the constitutionality of strict measures against illegal immigrants passed last month in their Dallas suburb [JURIST report; Dallas Morning News report]. The defendants in the federal court action are the city of Farmers Branch [official website] and key members of the city's government, including the mayor, the city council, and the city's building inspector. The lawsuit seeks to stop the measures from going into effect as scheduled on January 12th.

The local anti-illegal immigration laws, the strongest yet passed in Texas, include making English the city's official language [Res. No. 2006-130 text], requiring apartment renters to show proof of residency [Ordinance No. 2892 text], and giving police the power to screen the residency status of suspects in custody. Landlords who rent to illegal immigrants are subject to a $500 fine for each day they violate the law by renting to individuals without proper documentation. Activists have already petitioned against the ordinance [AP report] in an effort to put it to a referendum. An estimated 37 percent of Farmers Branch's population of 28,000 is Hispanic. AP has more. The Houston Chronicle has additional coverage.

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