ACLU of Texas, MALDEF File Suit to Stop Farmers Branch Newest Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

Ordinance Requires All Renters to “Register” and Obtain City Licenses to Reside in Farmers Branch

September 15, 2008

DALLAS, TX – Friday, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, and the ACLU of Texas filed a complaint in federal court, alleging that Farmers Branch Ordinance 2952 violates the U.S. Constitution and federal and state statutes. Ordinance 2952, which requires all renters in Farmers Branch to register their presence with the City and obtain an occupancy license, is the City’s third effort to restrict residency in Farmers Branch.

“Unfortunately, the City of Farmers Branch doesn’t know when to quit,” said Nina Perales, Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF. “Despite several rulings striking down predecessor Ordinances, Farmers Branch continues to try to regulate immigration by violating the rights of all renters in Farmers Branch.

A federal judge has twice ruled unconstitutional the city’s attempts to pass such measures. The third such effort, Ordinance 2952, was passed by the city just five days after U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay struck down an earlier version of the rental ban. Ordinance 2952 was scheduled to take effect Saturday, Sept. 13 but was enjoined late Friday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle in a separate related lawsuit.

“Anyone with a sense of history should be wary of an ordinance requiring a city’s residents to ‘register’ and obtain an ‘occupancy license,’” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas. “Far from curing the defects of the previous ordinances, the new Ordinance is more offensive to Constitution and violates core American values like privacy and the right to freely contract,” noted Omar Jadwat, staff attorney for the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project.

The lawsuit charges that Ordinance 2952 allows Farmers Branch to enforce immigration law, a responsibility of federal government. The Ordinance also violates the equal protection and due process provisions of the Constitution.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund