Groups: Block Texas Town’s Immigrant Ban

Anabelle Garay, AP, May 15, 2007

Latino activists and civil liberties advocates asked a federal judge Tuesday to block a voter-approved ordinance that prohibits landlords from renting apartments to most illegal immigrants in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch.

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The ordinance, scheduled to take effect next Tuesday, requires apartment managers to verify that renters are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them, with some exceptions. Violators face fines of up to $500.

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City council members first approved the ban in November without discussion, then revised it in January to include exemptions for minors, seniors and some mixed-status families. On Saturday, residents voted to approve the ban with 68 percent of voters in favor, according to unofficial results.

Councilman Tim O’Hare, the ordinance’s lead proponent, contends the city’s economy and quality of life will improve if illegal immigrants are kept out. O’Hare declined to comment Tuesday.

Since 1970, Farmers Branch has changed from a small, predominantly white bedroom community with a declining population to a city of almost 28,000 people, about 37 percent of them Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Nationwide, more than 90 local governments have proposed, passed or rejected laws prohibiting landlords from leasing to illegal immigrants, penalizing businesses that employ them or training police to enforce immigration laws.

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