December 26, 2006

FARMERS BRANCH-- Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas (ACLU), along with the ACLU's National Immigrants' Rights Project, filed suit in Dallas federal district court on behalf of Farmers Branchresidents and landlords challenging that city's recently adopted anti-immigrant ordinance.

The lawsuit charges that the Farmers Branchanti-immigrant ordinance runs afoul of federal immigration law and places landlords in the untenable position of acting as federal immigration officers.  The complaint also alleges that the ordinance is so poorly drafted that it excludes even some authorized immigrants from renting in Farmers Branch apartment complexes.  "Immigration enforcement must be left to the federal government, not each local municipality," said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas.  "Otherwise Texas will end up with a patchwork system that is impractical and unenforceable, and in Farmers Branch, private landowners as well as tenants will pay an unfair price."

"The Farmers Branch law is a botched attempt to force landlords to police immigration" stated Nina Perales, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel.  "The Latino population of Farmers Branch is a strength, not a liability, and city leaders should not be wasting tax money to drive out people who help the city," continued Perales.

The housing ordinance is scheduled to take effect on January 12, 2007.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF, the nation's leading Latino legal organization, promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through advocacy, litigation, community education and outreach, leadership development, and higher education scholarships.

The ACLU of Texas is the state affiliate of the national ACLU, which was founded in 1920 to defend and preserve the civil liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution. The ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project is part of the ACLU's national office in New Yorkand coordinates litigation and advocacy on issues affecting immigration in all fifty states.

Downloand (in PDF format) the ACLU and MALDEF's complaint below.