Cherokee Sued Over Immigrant Housing Law

Mark Bixler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 5, 2007

Immigrant advocates have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of a Cherokee County ordinance that would prevent landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.

In response, the county has agreed to halt enforcement of the controversial ordinance, attorneys said today.

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other groups sued Cherokee County in U.S.District Court in Atlanta on Thursday. Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. signed an order preventing the county from enforcing its ordinance, said Isaiah Delemar, acting regional counsel for MALDEF in Atlanta.

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Cherokee County agreed to delay enforcement of its landlord ordinance until the resolution of legal challenges to similar ordinances in Pennsylvania and Texas.

Buzz Ahrens, chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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The Cherokee County commissioners approved an ordinance last month that would require landlords in unincorporated parts of the county to verify that tenants are in the United States with permission. The county has a fast-growing immigrant population. Several thousand foreign-born residents, mainly Latinos, have gravitated to jobs in construction, landscaping, hospitality and other industries.

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