Galvez lost the three-way race with a scant 14 percent of the votes. Though Latinos now held the majority in Farmers Branch, they represented only 24 percent of eligible voters. With 66 percent of the eligible vote, whites maintained an unshakable grasp on City Hall.

Still, there are signs that some in Farmers Branch are working to unite the divided city. As early voting kicked off in May, Galvez ambled up to candidate Jeff Fuller in the City Hall parking lot. He had just cast his vote for him. He shook the hand of Rick Johnson, who supported both Fuller and the immigration ordinances. He's often described as a former O'Hare-faction lackey, accused of following opposing candidates as they conducted knock-and-talks. (For his part, Johnson says that while he campaigned on O'Hare's behalf, he didn't take instructions from the candidate and doesn't consider himself a lackey. He also denies he ever followed opposing candidates.) The two men share a bitter history, and this handshake was no mean feat.

Even that day, there was little common ground between them on the issue that looms over the town. Johnson still believed the town's Spanish-speaking enclaves are a breeding ground for crime. Galvez still gets questioning looks when he walks through the aisles of the grocery store in dusty work clothes. But both were voting Fuller. "I've got people in my campaign that two or three years ago weren't talking to each other and hated each other," Fuller says.


On March 21, a panel of the 5th Circuit Court permanently enjoined Farmers Branch's final ordinance. "We conclude that the ordinance's sole purpose is not to regulate housing but to exclude undocumented aliens, specifically Latinos, from the City of Farmers Branch and that it is an impermissible regulation of immigration," the majority wrote.

To date, Farmers Branch has spent some $5 million defending its ordinances. It is now petitioning the 5th Circuit for a hearing from the entire court. If it is defeated, it may be on the hook for another $2 million in plaintiffs' legal fees.

In Hazleton, Pennsylvania (pop. 22,000), an ordinance almost identical to Farmers Branch's has been struck down by a federal appeals court. Though the city reportedly owes $2.4 million in legal bills, it has vowed to appeal.

In Fremont, Nebraska (pop. 26,000), another Kobach testing ground, a similar renter's provision was struck down in federal court. The city has spent some $1.5 million in legal fees, and may have to pay the plaintiff's attorneys another $800,000. Fremont, too, plans to appeal.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the suit against Arizona's infamous immigration enforcement law, SB 1070 — a law Kobach helped craft. The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon. A defeat, he says, is not the end. Though the state, already out of pocket millions, may be forced to pay the legal fees for the opposing side, Kobach says he will simply go back to the drawing board and tweak his formula.

On May 22, Fuller placed his hand on the Bible and swore an oath. The week before, he swept council member Michelle Holmes from her seat by a two-to-one margin. "There's a significant backlash, looking at the results of the election," says Gene Bledsoe, who ran against O'Hare in the 2008 mayoral race.

The moment Fuller was sworn in, the 30 or so people gathered in the council chambers stood and cheered. So, too, did his daughter and the son she adopted from Guatemala. Aside from Viveros, restaurateur Elizabeth Villafranca and Aceves, the boy was one of very few Hispanic attendees.

Fuller took the microphone. "I will work toward a more inclusive local government," he began, "for all our residents, and to include them in the decision-making process." Should the 5th Circuit decline to hear the city's case en banc, Fuller believes the voters should decide whether the city petitions the Supreme Court. As the residents circulated in the lobby, Villafranca sensed a change.

"I actually feel welcome here," she said. "The people who came here are different faces, friendly faces." For the first time in years, it felt like there was reason to hope.

Meanwhile, Aceves circled the room, shaking hands, celebrating the election of a man who had become disenchanted with the immigration ordinance Aceves suported. What, exactly, had changed?

"I know it might be right to bring it back to voters," he said. "And if that's what [Fuller] feels, I agree with him."

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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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