May 16, 2007
Farmers Branch lawsuits filed

As expected, the ratification of Farmers Branch's anti-immigrant ordinance has spawned a round of lawsuits.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund wants a federal district court to restrain the Dallas suburb from enforcing the rental ban, which is set to take effect next Tuesday.

Three federal lawsuits have been brought against the city on behalf of apartment complexes, business owners, Hispanic residents with undocumented relatives and others. They are being heard together before U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay.

"We'd like the judge to hear this before the ordinance goes into effect," said MALDEF staff attorney Marisol Perez.

A group of business owners behind one of the lawsuits also said that they would file a motion for injunctive relief this afternoon.

"I've said all along that an election was not going to stop this," said Carlos Quintanilla, an activist and spokesman for 43 business owners that have sued the city.


[City Attorney Matthew] Boyle said he was optimistic about his chances of averting a restraining order. He said he is preparing a letter for the dozen apartment complexes affected explaining how to comply with the law.

The ordinance requires apartment managers to verify that renters are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them, with some exceptions. Violators would face a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of up to $500.

That's the first I recall hearing about any exceptions - I may have just missed it before. I wonder what they might be.

Note that as was the case when the ordinance was first passed, one of the lawsuits was filed in state court claiming that the Farmers Branch City Council violated the state open meetings act when they took action. We'll see what happens.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 16, 2007 to National news