A federal judge recently struck down a law passed in a southern border city that would have restricted access to rental housing for illegal aliens.
The ordinance, enacted by the city of Farmers Branch, Texas required that every renter purchase a ‘renter’s license’ for $5. Through the licensing application process, the city would determine whether the renter was here illegally. Landlords would be forced to evict any tenant who the city discovered to be an illegal alien.
During the arguments before the court, city officials are alleged to have stated that the ordinance was in place primarily to stop illegal immigration from Latin American countries, raising an issue of discrimination.
In reaching the ruling, the federal judge held that a city ordinance affecting immigration violates the U.S. Constitution, which gives that right exclusively to the federal government. Having various city or state ordinances restricting rentals would create an “obstacle to uniform enforcement” of immigration policies, according to the judge.
This was the third such attempt by Farmers Branch leaders to curb what they perceive as a growing illegal alien population. Other ordinances, including a prohibition on landlords who rent to illegals, previously have been struck down as unconstitutional.
The ruling did not address whether it is against the law for a landlord to exclude illegal aliens from their rentals, as in the case of California’s recent law prohibiting questions about immigration status. See How to Screen a Tenant Who Doesn’t Have a Social Security Number. However, it is illegal for a city or state government to create more burden than federal law, as in this case where an immigrant must purchase a license and undergo an investigation to rent a home.
The city has vowed to appeal the verdict; however, having spent millions of taxpayer dollars on three failed attempts to regulate immigrants, public opposition to an appeal is growing.
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