[JURIST] Two civil rights groups filed suit [complaint, PDF] in federal court Tuesday to block enforcement of a town ordinance [text] passed in November by the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch [official website] requiring apartment renters to show proof of US residency and penalizing landlords who rent to illegal immigrants. The ACLU of Texas [advocacy website; press release], in conjunction with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) [advocacy website; press release], sued to bar the city from implementing the act beginning January 12, alleging that federal immigration law preempts state and local ordinances aimed at regulating immigration, and that the law as drafted is impermissibly vague.
Some local landlords have also spoken against the ordinance [Houston Chronicle report], saying they are not trained to determine whether immigration papers produced by potential renters are forgeries. Two other recent lawsuits have challenged the ordinance, one filed last Friday on behalf of three apartment complexes [JURIST report], and one filed earlier in December alleging that the Mayor of Farmer's Branch broke the Texas Open Meetings Act [PDF backgrounder] during deliberations concerning the ordinance. AP has more.
Last November a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] against the town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, preventing the town from promulgating a similar landlord-tenant ordinance designed to discourage illegal immigration.