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Federal appeals court strikes down Texas city immigrant housing ordinance

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 9-5 Monday that an ordinance barring undocumented workers from renting property within the city of Farmers Branch, Texas [official website], is unconstitutional. The ordinance requires that prospective renters provide proof of their immigration status, and allows for anyone found to be undocumented to be evicted from their rental property. The court held that the law conflicts with federal law, stating:

We conclude that enforcement of the Ordinance conflicts with federal law. ... Conflict exists despite Farmers Branch's argument that its Ordinance establishes "concurrent enforcement" of federal immigration law, as "[t]he fact of a common end hardly neutralizes conflicting means." By setting forth criminal offenses that "discourage illegal immigration or otherwise reinforce federal immigration law," and by providing for state judicial review of a non-citizen's lawful or unlawful presence, the Ordinance creates such conflict.
The ordinance in question has been blocked by federal courts since its inception in 2006 and has never gone into effect.

Last year, the Fifth Circuit upheld the ban on the ordinance [JURIST report], finding that it served no legitimate purpose and served only to impose an extra burden on immigrants. In 2008 a temporary injunction was issued [JURIST report] against the enforcement of the ordinance. In the lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed earlier in 2008 [JURIST report], several landlords and a former City Council member challenged the constitutionality of Ordinance 2952, alleging it denied immigrants equal protection and due process rights. The city passed the ordinance after a previous law was struck down [JURIST reports] by a US district judge in 2007 as an infringement of federal supremacy in the area of immigration.

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