Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch

July 23, 2013

Beginning in 2006, the City of Farmers Branch, Texas, passed a series of housing ordinances conditioning an individual’s ability to reside in rental housing on immigration status.  The most recent Ordinance required all prospective renters to provide immigration status information and obtain a rental license, provided that the immigration status information would be verified with the federal government, and authorized the City to revoke the rental license of anyone found to be unlawfully present in the United States.  


A demonstrator protests the anti-immigrant ordinance in Farmers Branch, Texas, in November 2006. Tim O'Hare is the city council member who first proposed the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, together with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and others, successfully obtained two permanent objections against the Farmers Branch ordinances in federal district court. The litigation asserted that the respective  Ordinances impermissibly sought to regulate immigration and ran afoul of federal immigration law because they sought to prevent immigrants deemed not lawfully present from residing in the City, a decision exclusively reserved to the federal government.  The litigation also included Equal Protection and Due Process claims.

In April 2012, in the City’s appeal from the injunction of the most recent Ordinance, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the Ordinance violated the Supremacy Clause and was preempted by federal law.  In particular, the Fifth Circuit reasoned that “the ordinance’s sole purpose is . . . to exclude undocumented aliens, specifically Latinos, from the City of Farmers Branch and that it is an impermissible regulation of immigration.  We hold that the ordinance is unconstitutional and presents an obstacle to federal authority on immigration and the conduct of foreign affairs.” 

In July 2012, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted en banc review of the decision.  The case will be argued in front of the full panel of Circuit judges in September 2012. 

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