January 19, 2008
Another step towards the cliff for Farmers Branch

You almost have to admire their perverse level of determination.

The Dallas suburb that jumped into the nationwide debate over immigration plans to take up another law to force out undocumented immigrants.

The Farmers Branch City Council plans to consider a new ordinance Tuesday banning landlords from renting apartments and houses to illegal immigrants. It would require the city and federal government, not the landlords, to determine who is in the country legally, The Dallas Morning News reported on its Web site Thursday.


"I am confident this new proposal is consistent with the intent of Farmers Branch voters, and will withstand any legal challenges," Mayor Pro Tem Tim O'Hare, who led the city's original efforts against illegal immigrants, told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

The new proposal would require adults wanting to lease a house or apartment in Farmers Branch to obtain an occupancy license from the city. People seeking the license would have to provide information about their citizenship or legal status. The information would be checked against a federal database to determine if applicants are in the country legally.

If federal authorities can't confirm a person has permission to live in the country, the license holder and landlord would be notified. The renter would have 60 days to provide proof of legal status.

Violations of the ordinance could result in a fine of up to $500 per day.

Jeez. Why not demand a set of fingerprints and a DNA sample while you're at it? It just boggles my mind that someone who would surely call himself a "conservative" thinks it's a good idea to get the local and federal government involved in the process of renting an apartment. Barry Goldwater must be spinning in his grave.

But hey, you go right ahead, Farmers Branch. Go ahead and destroy your village in order to save it. Maybe something good will arise from the rubble some day.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 19, 2008 to National news

I'm no attorney, but even I understand the concept of federalism. Under our system of government, states lack the legal authority to regulate immigration - that power being reserved for the federal government. Since they lack that authority, they cannot delegate it to cities and counties. Farmers Branch has no more authority to regulate immigration, even by regulating tenancy, than it does to print currency or enter into treaties. You'd think the city attorney of Farmers Branch would know better. But I suspect he or she is about to find out, again.

Posted by: Dennis on January 19, 2008 9:27 AM

2 Questions (and they are not rhetorical):

1) How long does it take to check the occupancy with the federal database?
2) How would Farmers Branch enforce this? Random audits?

Posted by: blank on January 19, 2008 10:47 AM

Last week, at the bank, I was assisted by Jose Padilla. I have no reason to doubt the name on his tag. Of course he's the real Jose Padilla... he and probably 100,000 other U.S. citizens around the country. (The number is a pure guess. But I have background experience in enumerating Hispanic names for a massive research project, and a surprisingly small number of names tend to repeat a lot.)

My point is simple: right or wrong, this effort by Farmers Branch cannot possibly work. Any federal database the town of Farmers Branch might check is almost certain to find someone of any given Hispanic name, and let's face it, that's who they're trying to exclude: "scary brown people."

I hope the town has a very large budget for defending against the lawsuits that are certain to come.

Posted by: Steve Bates on January 20, 2008 1:03 AM