Dallas suburb faces lawsuit over ordinance targeting illegal immigrants

[JURIST] A lawsuit filed Wednesday in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas [official website] challenges the latest version of a Farmers Branch [official website; JURIST news archive] municipal ordinance which prohibits illegal immigrants from occupying leased property. In the lawsuit [case materials] against the Dallas suburb, several landlords and a former City Council member seek to enjoin enforcement of Ordinance 2952 [DOC text], which is scheduled to take effect Sept. 13. The plaintiffs claim it is unconstitutional because it violates the Supremacy Clause by regulating immigration [JURIST news archive] and denies immigrants equal protection and due process rights. Anyone wishing to rent a single-family residence would be required to obtain an occupancy license, and the city building inspector would submit information from these license applications to a federal database, the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) [official website], to determine the applicants' immigration status. This ordinance is different from prior versions because it relies on the federal government, rather than on landlords, to determine applicants' status. AP has more. The Dallas Morning News has local coverage. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has additional local coverage.

In May, US District Judge Sam Lindsay [official profile] finalized a holding [JURIST report] that an earlier law, Ordinance 2903 [DOC text], was unconstitutional. The Farmers Branch City Council [official website] passed the current ordinance [JURIST report] in an attempt to cure the flaws identified by Lindsay, and the city has been defending the ordinances since an initial version was adopted [JURIST report] in late 2006. More than 50 other US municipalities have contemplated similar laws, and last year a federal judge struck down [JURIST report] two Hazleton, Pennsylvania ordinances designed to prevent illegal immigrants from living or working in the town.

 

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