Judge Rules Against Immigration-Related Rental Ban

Anabelle Garay, Associated Press, August 29, 2008

A federal judge issued a final judgment on Thursday permanently preventing a Dallas suburb from enforcing a rule banning apartment rentals to illegal immigrants.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay could conclude a nearly two-year court battle over a never-enforced ordinance that would have required landlords to verify tenants’ legal status.

The judgment also triggers a countdown to another immigration-related rule by Farmers Branch officials. City officials approved the new rule to take effect 15 days after a final judgment on the ordinance that was being litigated. It would require prospective tenants to get a rental license from the city. Farmers Branch would ask the federal government for the applicant’s legal status before approving the rental license.

Opponents of the previous ordinance—which included apartment complex operators, residents and advocates—plan to challenge the new rule.

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Around the country, some 100 cities or counties have considered, passed or rejected laws focusing on illegal immigration, but Farmers Branch was the first in Texas, according to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Farmers Branch stepped into the nationwide political debate over immigration in 2006 at the urging of then first-term city councilman and personal injury lawyer Tim O’Hare. He has since become mayor of the city, which has about 28,000 residents.

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