Texas town cracks down on il­le­gal aliens, ex­pects law­suit to fol­low

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Hugh Aynesworth

FARM­ERS BRANCH, Texas — City Coun­cil mem­bers on Feb. 13 unan­i­mously passed or­di­nances they hope will cur­tail il­le­gal aliens, but said they ex­pected the new laws to be fought in court.

Hun­dreds were turned away from City Hall, and the coun­cil cham­ber it­self was filled to le­gal oc­cu­pancy as the city lead­ers passed the strictest set of or­di­nances against il­le­gal en­try in any Texas city.

Specif­i­cally, the 6-0 votes au­tho­rized fines for prop­erty own­ers who rent to il­le­gal aliens and des­ig­nated English as the of­fi­cial lan­guage — a move de­signed to end print­ing and the con­duct of city busi­ness in both English and Span­ish.

Also passed was an or­di­nance au­tho­riz­ing city po­lice to en­ter into an agree­ment with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials to tar­get crim­i­nal aliens. Op­po­nents, in­clud­ing the League of United Latin Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens (LULAC) and the Mex­i­can Amer­i­can Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tion Fund (MALDEF), vowed to file a law­suit.

“We are here not only to say that th­ese or­di­nances vi­o­late fed­eral law, but that th­ese or­di­nances drive un­nec­es­sary ten­sion in the city,” said Marisol Perez, a MALDEF staff lawyer.

LULAC mem­ber Car­los Quin- tanilla said: “You can’t pro­mote Farm­ers Branch as a great city when you are deny­ing peo­ple to live in apart­ments, when you are deny­ing chil­dren the right to speak their lan­guage.”

Mr. Perez said that forc­ing land­lords to de­ter­mine whether a per­son seek­ing to rent an apart­ment is an il­le­gal alien makes the prop­erty owner “wear the shoes of an im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer. It’s a very dif­fi­cult po­si­tion.”

Coun­cil mem­ber Tim O’Hare, a trial lawyer who has been push­ing hard for ap­proval of the or­di­nance, said the city ex­pects to be sued.

Mr. O’Hare, who was cheered by the mostly white cit­i­zens who agreed with him, said af­ter the vote that the mea­sures adopted would ben­e­fit all those who live in the small city just north of Dal­las — those he said, “who are le­gal cit­i­zens.”

One orig­i­nally pro­posed crack­down didn’t make it to the ta­ble — fin­ing busi­ness own­ers who hire il­le­gal aliens.

“Why not make busi­ness own­ers pay if they hire aliens?” read one sign at the coun­cil meet­ing.

“Guess they got some real heat over that one,” groused Em­mett G. Smith, who said he had lived in Farm­ers Branch for 61 years.

In the past three decades, Farm­er­sBranch­has­grown­fro­masleepy com­mu­nity of a few thou­sand mostly white cit­i­zens to more than 28,000, 37 per­cent of whom are His­panic. More than 75 cor­po­rate head­quar­ters are lo­cated here, many of them mi­nor­ity-owned.

More than four dozen com­mu­ni­ties na­tion­wide have con­sid­ered or plan to con­sider sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion. An even more strin­gent set of or­di­nances was passed ear­lier this year in Hazel­ton, Pa., with re­stric­tions and fines against land­lords who rent to il­le­gal aliens and the de­nial of busi­ness per­mits to those who hire il­le­gal aliens.

A fed­eral court re­strain­ing or­der tem­po­rar­ily has blocked en­force­ment there af­ter le­gal fil­ings from the ACLU and the Puerto Ri­can Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tion Fund.

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