Judge extends block on Dallas suburb immigrant rental ordinance

[JURIST] A US federal judge extended a temporary restraining order Tuesday, blocking the Texas town of Farmers Branch [official website; JURIST news archive], a suburb of Dallas, from enforcing a law that would bar landlords from renting apartments to most illegal immigrants. The restraining order will be in effect until June 19, when Judge Sam Lindsay plans to rule on whether the ordinance can be enforced while legal challenges are underway. The city ordinance [DOC text] requires apartment renters to show proof of US residency and penalizes landlords who rent to illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive]. Landlords who do not comply with the law will face fines up to $500. The ordinance does not require minors and tenants who are 62 years of age and older to prove their immigration status, and allows lease renewals if the renters are currently tenants, the head of household or spouse is in the US legally, and the family includes only the spouse, their minor children or parents. The ordinance was approved by voters [JURIST report], but Lindsay first issued a temporary restraining order [PDF text; JURIST report] the day before the law was set to take effect.

The ordinance is a revision of an earlier ordinance that was set to take effect in January [JURIST reports]. In December 2006, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and ACLU of Texas [advocacy websites] sued [JURIST report] to stop the city from implementing the first ordinance, alleging that federal immigration law preempts state and local ordinances aimed at regulating immigration, and that the law as drafted was impermissibly vague. In response to the lawsuit, a judge issued a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] against enforcing the act in January 2007. The same month, the City Council voted to revise the ordinance to include exceptions for minor children and seniors. MALDEF and the ACLU-Texas are continuing with their earlier lawsuit and city lawyers admitted during a Tuesday hearing that the ordinance still suffered from some "drafting issues," but outlined how those could be fixed if the court were to invalidate certain portions of the ordinance. AP has more.



 

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