May 13, 2007
Election wrapup: Farmers Branch

As predicted, the city ordinance to make renting an apartment to an undocumented immigrant was ratified by the voters in Farmers Branch.

With all votes counted, the bitterly contested ordinance passed by 67 percent of the vote.

"We are fed up with the federal government's inaction on immigration," said City Councilman Tim O'Hare, who sponsored the rental ban. "We are not going to wait. We are going to take care of it."

Bill Brewer, a Dallas lawyer who has filed two lawsuits against the rental measure and financed much of the campaign against it, said he would ask for a court to enjoin enforcement "very soon."

"If this ordinance was intended, as we believe, to target Latinos and drive them out, that is unconstitutional and we think the courts will agree," he said.

Nina Perales, southwest regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said her group would act quickly to prevent the ordinance from going into force.

If not blocked in court, it will go into effect on May 22.

I underestimated the margin of victory, but nothing else about this surprises me.

Over the past 30 years, Hispanics have come to make up nearly 40 percent of the city's 28,500 residents.

O'Hare and other ordinance supporters have said many of the city's Spanish speakers are in the country illegally. They contend the newcomers have brought crime, dragged down property values and lowered achievement in public schools.

They're lying on all three counts, not that it really mattered. This was never about reality but about emotion.

Just out of curiosity, what do you think might happen to Farmers Branch's economy and property values if all of those Hispanic folks decided to pack up and leave, now that they know how unwelcome they are? It won't happen, but it would be pretty poetic if it did.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 13, 2007 to Election 2007