ACLU And MALDEF File Lawsuit To Stop Farmers Branch Newest Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
September 15, 2008 12:00 am

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Ordinance Requires All Renters To “Register” And Obtain City Licenses To Reside In Farmers Branch, Texas

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DALLAS – Friday, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Texas filed a complaint in federal court charging that Farmers Branch Ordinance 2952 violates the U.S. Constitution and federal and state statutes. The ordinance, which requires all renters in Farmers Branch to register their presence with the City and obtain an occupancy license, is the city’s third effort to restrict residency in Farmers Branch.

“Unfortunately, the City of Farmers Branch doesn’t know when to quit,” said Nina Perales, Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF. “Despite several rulings striking down predecessor ordinances, Farmers Branch continues to try to regulate immigration by violating the rights of all renters in Farmers Branch.”

A federal judge has twice ruled unconstitutional the city’s attempts to pass such measures. The third such effort, Ordinance 2952, was passed by the city just five days after U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay struck down an earlier version of the rental ban. The ordinance was scheduled to take effect Saturday, September 13 but was enjoined late Friday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle in a separate related lawsuit.

“Anyone with a sense of history should be wary of an ordinance requiring a city’s residents to ‘register’ and obtain an ‘occupancy license,'” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas.

“Far from curing the defects of the previous ordinances, the new ordinance continues to violate the Constitution. Rather than ending the city’s misguided meddling in people’s lives, it seeks to expand its reach by subjecting everyone to this intrusive registration and licensing regime, which would expose private domestic arrangements and personal details,” noted Omar Jadwat, staff attorney for the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The lawsuit charges that Ordinance 2952 allows Farmers Branch to enforce immigration law, a responsibility of the federal government. The ordinance also violates the equal protection and due process provisions of the Constitution.

A copy of the complaint is available online at:

Attorneys who worked on the case include Jadwat and Lucas Guttentag of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Graybill of the ACLU of Texas; Perales and Marisol L. Perez of MALDEF; and David Broiles.

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