Kobach is a true believer in the inherent authority of states and municipalities to enforce federal immigration law. And so he waved off practical considerations that could make verification tricky.

"The so-called problems with verification are a complete fabrication of the ACLU," Kobach scoffed.

But consider the volunteer English teacher, Rolando Puga, who possesses a master's degree in business administration. "I lost my work permit," he says. "I guess you could say I'm 'illegal.'"

Kris Kobach
Kris Kobach
Tim O'Hare
Tim O'Hare

Puga, now 39, emigrated to this country when he was 18. Before he lost his work visa, he was the international trade administrator for a bank, he says. Now he does whatever contract work he can get. "I tell people I do not have the privilege of working," he says. His case before the immigration court is pending, but years might pass before he sees a judge. Until then, no official or database can tell the Farmers Branch building inspector whether or not he has the right to live here. Like the many who remain, even as the council seemed to regard them as "barriers" to prosperity, he learned to cope.

"There was a lot of talk about it, and every day it's like, 'Did you hear the news?'" says Claudia Ortiz, manager of Paletería San Marcos, a shop her family has owned since 1998. "You sort of move on, even though it's looming over your head."


In July 2010, Bickel & Brewer sued Farmers Branch, charging that its at-large electoral system robbed the Latinos of council representation. The case will go before a judge later this month. The current system, the complaint alleges, "permits the possibility that the City Council could reside on the same street ..." They weren't far off. The entire City Council lived east of Webb Chapel, primarily in Brookhaven and Wooded Creek. On the west side of town, Hispanics could undoubtedly turn out in sufficient numbers to choose from one of their own in a single-member district scheme.

But in a citywide, at-large system, they'd never voted in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the voting bloc on the east side. As a result, Farmers Branch has only ever known white council members, though it wasn't for lack of trying.

On a recent afternoon, an investment adviser and Farmers Branch Rotary Club president named Jack Viveros lumbered up to a table outside the local Starbucks and eased into the chair. He's a bluff, enthusiastically profane man with a whitening goatee, and his 6-foot-3, nearly 300-pound frame scarcely fit into the chair.

He says he isn't afraid of any man, least of all the kind of man who allegedly threatened him when Viveros ran for council member Harold Froelich's seat last year. He claims Mayor Pro Tem David Koch called him up after he announced his candidacy. "[Koch] said, 'Hey, I can't believe you're actually running. That's very disappointing.'"

Koch, he claims, said he'd get him appointed to a board if he dropped out.

Koch disputes almost every aspect of his story and says Viveros called him, asking for help. Nor, he says, did he ever offer Viveros a seat on a board in exchange for dropping out. "If you call that offering a position, I told him to submit an application and see what happens. We have people applying regularly for a board."

The morning after his alleged conversation with Koch, Viveros claims someone called his cell phone. "It was Sam [Aceves, a Latino and City Council gadfly who was a fierce supporter of the immigration ordinance]. He said, 'Do you know who I am?'" Viveros said that he did.

"'It's in your best interest that you do not continue your campaign,'" Viveros claims Aceves said. He then informed Aceves that he had recorded their conversation. Viveros declined to produce the recording for a reporter, but Aceves was later indicted on charges of coercion against a candidate. He declined to discuss the charge.

"The feds followed me for the last six weeks of the campaign," Viveros says with a chuckle. "They wanted to make sure I made it to the election. I thought it was comical that they'd want to spend that much time and money, but he was interfering with an election."

The Department of Justice had been monitoring elections in Farmers Branch for three out of the last four years. If true, the incident fit in with a political climate that had grown acidic. But the only other indignity Viveros claims he suffered during the remainder of his campaign was a question at a candidate forum leveled at him alone. Reading from a card submitted by someone in the audience, a moderator asked, "Because of your nationality, would you be any more lenient on illegal immigrants, and if so, why?"

"I was livid. I said, 'First of all, let me explain this to you. I was born in Corpus Christi. My parents filed proper paperwork and became citizens. I find it offensive you would ask me that.'"

But nationality or, rather, ethnicity, was clearly on everyone's mind, and when the votes were tallied, Viveros lost by some 400 to Froelich, becoming the latest in an unbroken line of unsuccessful Hispanic candidates, most of whom say they were intimidated in one way or another. There was Ruben Rendon, a school psychologist, and Elizabeth Villafranca, owner of the Mexican food chain Cuquitas, who had earlier been denied entry into the Rotary Club. The very first, however, was José Galvez. Galvez pours slabs and sells concrete. In 2007, he ran against Tim Scott. A naturalized citizen, born in Mexico, Galvez shared a ballot with the ordinance referendum that turned out voters en masse. "It was a little bit rough," he says. "When I would visit households, they'd say, 'Hey, you illegal immigrant, get out of our country!' It's just unfortunate."

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7 comments
Guest 2
Guest 2

Well, I'm a proud liberal who lives in an area (Pleasant Grove) where Hispanics have taken over, and this is not a good thing for the neighborhoods. I have to agree with "Guest" below. Most of these people do not know how to assimilate into the community and live accordingly. They are arrogant, have no sense of pride in their properties, and they allow their animals to run rampant. They also allow their children (which are many), to trespass on other's property. I know other races do this also, but not to the extent of Hispanics. Hopefully, I'll be able to get out of this hell-hole before I die.

Aurora Stlaurent
Aurora Stlaurent

Regardless of where you live, you must understand that there is an expectation to follow suit with expectations or make the place even better. Skin color is not important, but upholding moral integrity, honor those around you, supporting education, and the like are why people still need to fight for their towns and cities. It is just such a shame that some underlying bigotry may have surfaced when the new rules and laws should have been stricter ordinances for all, higher expectations for apartment complexes to uphold with the leases, etc. it is not too late to encourage and enforce expectations so that people who are law abiding and want a better life are given a fair shake. Many people I personally know left The Branch over the past few years because the law is not maintaining safety and expectation. If students aren't attending school and performing increase court fines, increase noise ordinances, institute city housing expectations or rather actually monitor, ticket, and expect change from all community members both sides of web chapel.

Daisy
Daisy

Seriously. I live in Oak Cliff and like it too. In fact, I've lived in Dallas or the surrounding area for more than 50 years and I can't remember going to Farmer's Branch for anything. I drive through it to go to Lewisville and Denton, but I've never stopped there.

xerox0001
xerox0001

The Truth Hurts! Hey liberals, screaming racism won't help you anymore. The fact is, the vast majority of Mexicans living in the southern united states are ILLEGAL ALIENS. Where do they get off thinking the US "owes" them anything? THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW. How would they like it if a bunch of illegal "gringos" showed up in their Mexican towns and started demanding that the locals speak English, pay for our schooling and medical bills, and allow us to vote and run for office? Maybe we should, then the US wouldn't have to baby-sit Mexico all the damn time because Felipe Calderón can't clean up the sh-t in his own backyard. So he sends it all to America and then has the gall to call us racist or bigots for wanting to protect our own borders and sovereignty and trying to keep the violent mexican drug cartels OUT of our country! SCREW HIM and F--K THIRD WORLD MEXICO.

OC Robbie
OC Robbie

"But, I'm not going to live in Oak Cliff, which is what we are becoming and going to become if we don't make some serious changes and spend some money." Tim O'Hare just shows his ignorance with this statement. Farmers Branch should strive to be like Oak Cliff - a community of diverse people, beautiful historic homes and a thriving dining and entertainment district. When was the last time you heard a group of friends say :let's meet in FB for drinks and dinner and then catch some live music"? Bashing another community to make a point just shows his true character - biased.

American Dreamer
American Dreamer

from humanevents.com/2007/07/20/founding-fathers-were-immigration-skeptics/ "In one of the most neglected sections of his Notes on Virginia, Thomas Jefferson posed the question, “Are there no inconveniences to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected by a multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners?” What was likely to happen, according to Jefferson, was that immigrants would come to America from countries that would have given them no experience living in a free society. They would bring with them the ideas and principles of the governments they left behind --ideas and principles that were often at odds with American liberty. “Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom?” Jefferson asked. “If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.”

 
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