DALLAS -- Latino activists and civil liberties advocates asked a federal judge yesterday to block a voter-approved ordinance that prohibits landlords from renting apartments to most illegal immigrants in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union, which have sued the city, requested the temporary restraining order in US District Court.
The ordinance, scheduled to take effect next Tuesday, requires apartment managers to verify that renters are US citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them, with some exceptions. Violators face fines of up to $500.
"It is unfortunate that the residents of Farmers Branch have chosen to implement a law which is not only bad policy, but is likely also unconstitutional," said Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. "Now the issue will have to be resolved in federal court."
The city is preparing a response to the request, said Matthew Boyle, an attorney representing Farmers Branch.
City council members first approved the ban in November without discussion, then revised it in January to include exemptions for minors, seniors, and some mixed-status families.