Garrett v. City of Escondido, California


Demonstrators protest the anti-immigrant ordinance in Escondido, Calif.

Litigation in Escondido, Calif., has permanently invalidated that city’s anti-immigrant ordinance.

In November 2006, federal judge John A. Houston issued a temporary restraining order preventing the town of Escondido, Calif., from enforcing anti-immigrant legislation. The ordinance — modeled after similar legislation in Hazleton, Pennsylvania — banned renting an apartment to anyone defined as an “illegal alien,” and sought to make landlords responsible for documenting all tenants’ residence status. Landlords who failed to comply with the ordinance would be subject to fines of as much as $1,000 per day, up to six months in jail and would have their business licenses suspended. The restraining order was issued on November 16, one day before the ordinance was to take effect.

On December 13, 2006, the city consented to entry of an injunction permanently barring enforcement of the challenged ordinance and to payment of $90,000 in attorneys’ fees to plaintiffs’ counsel. The city estimated its own legal fees between $100,000 and $150,000, further stating that those fees could have eventually exceeded $1 million (in addition to any fees awarded to the plaintiffs). The city also noted:  “The litigation … quickly revealed further problems, including the lack of an assured federal database to determine the status of individuals for housing purposes.”

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Rosner & Mansfield, Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, the Fair Housing Council of San Diego, People For the American Way and Brancart & Brancart were counsel in the case. 

PRESS RELEASES
> Civil Rights Organizations File Lawsuit Over Unconstitutional Ordinance in Escondido, Calif. (11/3/2006)

LEGAL DOCUMENTS
> Garrett v. City of Escondido Complaint (PDF) (11/3/2006)

LEGISLATIVE DOCUMENTS
> Escondido, Calif., Ordinance No. 2006-38 R (10/18/2006)

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