Rights groups sue to block local California anti-immigrant ordinance

[JURIST] The ACLU, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) [advocacy website], and other rights groups filed a lawsuit [PDF] Friday attempting to block an ordinance [2006-38R text, TIF] in Escondido, California [official website], designed to prevent landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. In October, Escondido lawmakers approved the measure [JURIST report] to take effect Nov. 18 requiring landlords to submit documentation to city authorities to prove their tenants' immigration status. If found in violation, landlords could face suspension of their business licenses and fines. MALDAF said in a press release [text]:

The coalition maintains that the ordinance is in direct violation of federal immigration law, since the federal government exclusively is charged with enforcing immigration laws, and it puts landlords in the untenable situation of served [sic] as federal law enforcement agents. It also violates the property and contract rights of both landlords and tenants, as well as federal fair housing and privacy laws, and disproportionately discriminates against Latino families.
AP has more; the San Diego Union-Tribune has local coverage.

Escondido's ordinance is similar to other local illegal immigration laws recently approved by municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The City Council of Hazleton, Pennsylvania initially passed a law that would punish landlords who leased property to illegal immigrants with or without knowledge of their illegal status, but later revised that to make it the city's responsibility to determine immigration statuses. A federal judge nonetheless issued a temporary restraining order blocking the law [JURIST report] earlier this week.


 

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