The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Maria Archuleta, ACLU national, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666;
Dotty Griffith, ACLU of Texas, (512) 478-7300 x 106;
Estuardo Rodriguez, MALDEF, (202) 631-2892

ACLU and MALDEF File Lawsuit to Stop Farmers Branch Newest Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

Ordinance Requires All Renters to 'Register' and Obtain City Licenses to Reside in Farmers Branch, Texas


the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the
American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Texas filed a complaint
in federal court charging that Farmers Branch Ordinance 2952 violates
the U.S. Constitution and federal and state statutes. The ordinance,
which requires all renters in Farmers Branch to register their presence
with the City and obtain an occupancy license, is the city's third
effort to restrict residency in Farmers Branch.

"Unfortunately, the City of Farmers
Branch doesn't know when to quit," said Nina Perales, Southwest
Regional Counsel for MALDEF. "Despite several rulings striking down
predecessor ordinances, Farmers Branch continues to try to regulate
immigration by violating the rights of all renters in Farmers Branch."

A federal judge has twice ruled
unconstitutional the city's attempts to pass such measures. The third
such effort, Ordinance 2952, was passed by the city just five days
after U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay struck down an earlier version of
the rental ban. The ordinance was scheduled to take effect Saturday,
September 13 but was enjoined late Friday afternoon by U.S. District
Judge Jane Boyle in a separate related lawsuit.

"Anyone with a sense of history
should be wary of an ordinance requiring a city's residents to
'register' and obtain an 'occupancy license,'" said Lisa Graybill,
Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas.

"Far from curing the defects of the
previous ordinances, the new ordinance continues to violate the
Constitution. Rather than ending the city's misguided meddling in
people's lives, it seeks to expand its reach by subjecting everyone to
this intrusive registration and licensing regime, which would expose
private domestic arrangements and personal details," noted Omar Jadwat,
staff attorney for the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.

The lawsuit charges that Ordinance
2952 allows Farmers Branch to enforce immigration law, a responsibility
of the federal government. The ordinance also violates the equal
protection and due process provisions of the Constitution.

A copy of the complaint is available online at:

Attorneys who worked on the case
include Jadwat and Lucas Guttentag of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights
Project; Graybill of the ACLU of Texas; Perales and Marisol L. Perez of
MALDEF; and David Broiles.

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666