Ordinance will go into effect January 12, 2007

Jan. 8, 2007

FARMERS BRANCH - Today, the Farmers Branch City Council refused to rescind or suspend implementation of the anti-immigrant ordinance it adopted on November 13, despite the submission of a recall petition signed by Farmers Branch residents and the legal challenge filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas (ACLU).  As a result, the ordinance will be put to a vote by the residents of Farmers Branchon May 12th.

Attorneys for MALDEF and the ACLU will continue with the civil rights suit filed on December 26, 2006, in federal court on behalf of residents and landlords who will be adversely affected by the ordinance. The lawsuit maintains that the ordinance is in direct violation of federal immigration law and illegally puts landlords in the untenable situation of serving as federal law enforcement agents.  The complaint also alleges that the ordinance violates the fundamental rights of both landlords and tenants.

"Unfortunately, the city council decided to continue with this fundamentally flawed ordinance and ignore the community's desire to halt its implementation," stated Marisol Perez, staff attorney for MALDEF.

"We regret that the City Council is continuing its plan to implement this ordinance despite strong community opposition and its likely unconstitutionality," said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas.  "Now the issue will have to be resolved in federal court, at considerable cost to the taxpayers of Farmer's Branch, the majority of whom recognize that the ordinance is both bad for the community and against the law."

"We hope the residents of Farmers Branch decide that this ordinance is not in their best interest and vote against it, but in the meantime we will continue to fight for the protection of the Constitutional rights of our clients," added Nina Perales, Southwest regional counsel for MALDEF.

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.

To view the ACLU and MALDEF's complaint, click here.