Federal judge blocks Dallas suburb immigrant housing ordinance ahead of trial

[JURIST] A US district judge in enjoined the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday from enforcing an ordinance [DOC text] that prohibits illegal immigrants from occupying leased property. US District Judge Jane J. Boyle of the Northern District of Texas [official websites] issued a preliminary injunction, replacing a temporary restraining order [Dallas Morning News report] entered earlier this month, as she set an expedited schedule that would bring the case to trial by early December. A spokeswoman for the ACLU of Texas [advocacy website], which is representing some of the plaintiffs, said [press release] after the judge's decision that

[e]very court in the country that has reviewed these local anti-immigrant housing ordinances has put a stop to them. Farmers Branch has taken the curious approach of recreating their ordinance to be even more intrusive and offensive, to the point of subjecting everyone to an intrusive, Big Brother-like licensing regime. The city has lost sight not only of the law, but of common sense, in this case.
Motions in the case are due October 29. AP has more. The Dallas Morning News has local coverage.

In the lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed earlier this month [JURIST report], several landlords and a former City Council member challenge the constitutionality of Ordinance 2952, alleging it denies immigrants equal protection and due process rights. The city passed the ordinance after an earlier law, Ordinance 2903 [DOC text], was struck down [JURIST report] by a US district judge last May as an infringement of federal supremacy in the area of immigration [JURIST news archive]. The Farmers Branch City Council passed the latest ordinance [JURIST report] in an attempt to cure that flaw. The ordinance requires anyone wishing to rent a single-family residence to obtain an occupancy license. A city building inspector would submit information from the license applications to a federal database, the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) [official website], to determine an applicant's immigration status.

 

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