January 24, 2008
Farmers Branch does it again

We knew it was coming, and now here it is: Farmers Branch passed another ordinance aimed at undocumented immigrants and rental housing.

City officials whose previous attempts to keep out illegal immigrants have been blocked by the courts took another shot Tuesday, adopting an ordinance that would not only ban them from renting apartments but also from renting houses.

The City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 2952, which would require all renters to pay a $5 fee and claim U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status to obtain an occupancy license from the city.

Remember, the city will then have to verify the applicant's citizenship status, by checking with federal databases. Because that's a totally appropriate use of the city's resources.

I know it doesn't make sense to ask questions about a crazy person's motivations, but I can't help myself: Why just limit yourself to rentals? Why not make prospective house buyers undergo the same routine? Heck, why not make anyone who wants to buy anything in Farmers Branch acquire a citizen's license from the city first? That'll show 'em!

Ordinance 2952 won't go into effect until a federal judge rules on the constitutionality of Ordinance 2903, passed last January by the council and adopted by voters in May. Though nearly two-thirds of voters approved the ordinance, Judge Sam Lindsay issued a preliminary injunction halting the city from implementing it until a lawsuit is resolved.

Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who has represented in court other cities that have tried to pass rental restrictions on illegal immigrants, helped draft the new ordinance.

He said Ordinance 2952 differs from 2903 in that the original sought to have landlords review documentation to determine whether someone was probably here legally.

Council member Tim O'Hare, the driving force behind the original efforts targeting illegal immigrants, said he believes Ordinance 2952 addresses the legal concerns raised in the lawsuits over Ordinance 2903 and will hold up in court.

But at least one lawyer said he plans to file legal action against the city and Ordinance 2952. William A. Brewer III of the Bickel & Brewer Storefront said the city continues to try to encroach on the federal government's exclusive authority to enforce immigration laws.

"It has even less of a chance ... of ever being enforced than did the ordinances that preceded it," he said.

And when that happens, one wonders what they'll try next.

At the other end of the spectrum, the city of Georgetown, TX, got a grip and rejected a proposed ordinance that would have required contractors hired by the city to offer proof that all their workers are US citizens. Elise Hu and Eye on Williamson have the details.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 24, 2008 to National news

I'm expecting Farmers Branch to put up road blocks at the city limits, prohibiting non-citizens, especially the French, from entering the community.

That, of course, would be illegal, but no more so than the rental ordinance Council just passed. This is all about appearances, creating the illusion of activity by elected officials.

My hunch is most Farmers Branch voters will probably buy it. Hard to imagine a court will.

Posted by: Dennis on January 24, 2008 7:30 AM