By Frank Knaack
Associate Director of Public Policy and Advocacy
Last week, the 5th Circuit ruled that the city of Farmers Branch, outside of Dallas, violated the Constitution by passing a housing ordinance aimed at driving out Latinos. The 5th Circuit concluded:
This country has a large Latino population and millions of Latinos live here without legal permission. However, the great majority live quietly, raise families, obey the law daily, and do work for our country. For all that they contribute to our welfare, they live in constant dread of being apprehended as illegal aliens and being evicted, perhaps having their families disrupted. As unsatisfactory as this situation is it is the immigration scheme we have today. Any verbal and legal discrimination against these people, as Farmers Branch exemplifies by this ordinance, exacerbate the difficulty of that immigration scheme. This is a national problem, needing a national solution. And it impacts the nation’s relations with Mexico and other nations. The Supreme Court long ago pointed out in Chy Lung the problem for this country of treating Chinese people poorly. And as the Court said in Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, “any policy toward aliens is vitally and intricately interwoven with contemporaneous policies in regard to the conduct of foreign relations, the war power, and the maintenance of a republican form of government.”
Because the sole purpose and effect of this ordinance is to target the presence of illegal aliens within the City of Farmers Branch and to cause their removal, it contravenes the federal government’s exclusive authority over the regulation of immigration and the conditions of residence in this country, and it constitutes an obstacle to federal authority over immigration and the conduct of foreign affairs. The ordinance is unconstitutional … .
Local governments throughout Texas should take note of this decision. Not only did the Farmers Branch government spend millions of taxpayer dollars in a failed attempt to defend this ordinance, it also sought to undermine the founding document of our nation … the Constitution.