MALDEF, ACLU Win Permanent Injunction Of Farmers Branch Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

Federal judge rules Farmers Branch Ordinance 2903 is unconstitutional and rejects City’s attempt to declare most recent Ordinance constitutional

May 28, 2008

DALLAS, TX – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) succeeded in invalidating Ordinance 2903, an anti-immigrant ordinance enacted by Farmers Branch, Texas. The ordinance was adopted by the Farmers Branch City Council in January of 2007. The federal court decision forbids the City from ever enforcing the Ordinance.

In a lengthy opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Sam A. Lindsay determined that Ordinance 2903 was preempted by federal law and violated Plaintiffs’ right to due process. In a separate order, Judge Lindsay also denied the City's request for a declaration that the City's latest version of the law, Ordinance 2952, is constitutional. The new ordinance does not go into effect until next month, but the federal court indicated that it too was problematic.

Noting that Farmers Branch has repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to amend its discriminatory ordinance to pass legal muster, Judge Lindsay wrote: “[T]he New Ordinance is yet another attempt to circumvent the court’s prior rulings and further an agenda that runs afoul of the United States Constitution. This motion is the city’s latest attempt to get the court to accept some version of the Ordinance as a legitimate scheme to regulate immigration.”

“This ruling sends a clear message to Farmers Branch that the City cannot regulate in the area of immigration,” stated Marisol Perez, MALDEF Staff Attorney. “Farmers Branch should stop wasting its taxpayers’ money on a string of failures in court,” continued Perez.

“The Court’s latest opinion is yet another affirmation of what we have argued since the first Ordinance was proposed in November 2006, and what courts across the country have recognized in other cases,” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas. “No municipality has the authority to regulate immigration. The City of Farmers Branch’s repeated attempts to do so are both impractical and unconstitutional.”

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund