MALDEF Strongly Opposes Farmers Branch City Council's Passage of Local Anti-Immigrant Measure

Ordinance has same constitutional flaw as others MALDEF has challenged

November 14, 2006

FARMERS BRANCH, TX - In response to action taken by the Farmers Branch City Council to pass an anti-immigrant housing ordinance aimed at penalizing landlords who fail to verify the immigration status of tenants, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) conferred with local leaders to prepare for the next phase of the debate. MALDEF has recently filed lawsuits against the cities of Escondido, CA and Valley Park, MO, who have passed similarly discriminatory and unconstitutional ordinances. Yesterday, MALDEF attorneys testified before the Farmers Branch City Council warning of the measure’s constitutional flaws.

“The ordinance unfairly makes landlords immigration agents. The ordinance will force landlords, who have no federal training, to review and verify a confusing variety of immigration documents,” stated Nina Perales, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel.

Additionally, the law will impose a great burden on all the residents of Farmers Branch who will now have to provide proof of legal immigration status when looking for an apartment to rent. MALDEF is concerned that the law will lead to the disparate treatment of Latinos, who are more likely to be the ones asked to prove legal status when applying to rent.

“The law is hypocritical. Farmers Branch has benefited economically from immigrants who have revitalized the downtown but the City leaders seek to push out the very people who are sustaining the economy. Farmers Branch wants the economic benefit brought by immigrants but doesn’t want to see the immigrants themselves,” added Luis Figueroa, MALDEF Staff Attorney.

The housing ordinance is scheduled to take effect on January 12, 2007. The council also passed a resolution yesterday to make English the city’s official language.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund