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Federal court strikes down Texas city ordinance denying housing to illegal aliens

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled [PDF text] Wednesday that a Farmers Branch, Texas [city website; JURIST news archive] ordinance that would bar landlords from renting apartments to most illegal immigrants is unconstitutional. Ordinance 2903 [DOC text] requires apartment renters to show proof of US residency and penalizes landlords who rent to illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive]. Judge Sam Lindsay initially blocked [JURIST report] the ordinance in 2007; on Wednesday, Lindsay ruled the ordinance was unconstitutional because it did not recognize federal supremacy in immigration matters and because it would require the court to rewrite legislation. AP has more.

In January, the Farmers Branch City Council [official website] approved a similar law [DOC text; JURIST report] that officials believe solves the problems [Dallas Morning News report] that Lindsay identified in Ordinance 2903. The new law, which would require possible renters to get a license from the city before renting, is scheduled to go into effect in two weeks. That ordinance is also being challenged, this time for an alleged violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act [PDF text], because the City Council passed the law quickly and secretly during a meeting to discuss legal challenges against Ordinance 2903.

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