The Farmers Branch ordinance barring people in the U.S. illegally from renting in the city is unconstitutional, an appeals court ruled for the second time Monday.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the ordinance encroached on the federal government’s authority.
Monday’s decision ended the city’s second appeal to the court, which had upheld the lower court’s ruling last year.
The city asked for a rehearing after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of an Arizona law.
In its majority opinion Monday, the judges were critical of Farmers Branch’s ordinance, which would have required all renters to obtain licenses proving they were in the U.S. legally.
Judges also found fault with the city’s plan to fine or revoke the renters’ licenses of landlords who leased to immigrants without permits.
“The ordinance not only criminalizes occupancy of a rented apartment or single-family residence, but puts local officials in the impermissible position of arresting and detaining persons based on their immigration status without federal direction and supervision,” the court said.
Through May, the suburb of about 29,000 residents had spent roughly $6 million since 2006 on legal expenses related to its fight against illegal immigration.
The law firm that sued the city over the rental ordinance said it plans to submit additional bills to Farmers Branch that are likely to top $2 million.
See here for the previous update. I was a little nervous after the court ordered a review of the original ruling to take into account the SCOTUS decision on the Arizona “papers, please” law, but I’m glad to see that fear was unfounded. The question at this point is whether Farmers Branch will finally accept that it has learned a very expensive lesson and quit adding to the tab. It’s not yet clear what they will do, but at least now their City Council has a voice of reason on it.
Monday evening, [new Council member Ana] Reyes praised the appeals court’s decision on the rental ordinance and said she wanted the city to drop the issue.
“The anti-immigration ordinance was outside of our local jurisdiction,” she said. “It is unconstitutional. This issue has been extremely divisive and costly for the citizens of Farmers Branch. It’s now time to move forward and reinvest our residents’ hard-earned tax dollars back into our community.”
CM Reyes of course is the first Hispanic member of Farmers Branch’s City Council, elected after they lost a different lawsuit to enact single member districts. It will be completely fitting if that development finally leads to Farmers Branch being persuaded to quit illegally and expensively trying to persecute a segment of its population.