Bilingual in the Branch? Say It Ain't So.

Illustration by Craig LaRotonda

Days after Farmers Branch passed a series of measures targeting illegal immigrants, including one declaring English the town's official language, the Farmers Branch Church of Christ offered its first bilingual service. That's more than a little ironic, since three city council members--including Tim O'Hare, who proposed the measures--belong to the Church of Christ. The pastor there collaborated with Pastor Vince Gonzales at the largely Hispanic North Dallas Family Church to offer the bilingual, bi-congregation services, the first of which took place on Sunday.

Gonzalez told The Dallas Morning News, "There's tension in the community, but whenever there's tension...there's an opportunity for God to work." The tension began in August, when fervent Christian and Church of Christ member O'Hare first suggested the measures. In addition to declaring English the official language, they require apartment renters in Farmers Branch to show proof of citizenship or residency and allow local law enforcement to confirm suspects' immigration status. Throughout the controversy that he initiated, O'Hare has maintained he has nothing against Hispanics or immigrants, just illegal ones, and denied representing illegal immigrants in his law practice.

But one fellow personal injury lawyer isn't so sure: On Friday, Angel Reyes posted an item on his firm's blog titled, "What's wrong with Farmers Branch?" There, he writes:

I thought I was going to stay out of the fray up in Farmers Branch, Texas, but I just can't do it anymore. I know Tim O'Hare. Months ago, Tim O'Hare came to my law office at my request and we met for lunch. You see, Tim O'Hare and I have one thing in common. We have both represented injured undocumented aliens, mostly Mexicans...One day, in the not-so-distant past, Tim O'Hare asked me to review about 20 or so files that he claimed he was simply too busy to work on. My recollection of the review of those files, while imperfect, is that many, if not most, of the names on the files were Hispanic.

Reyes, who has practiced for 15 years, told Unfair Park that a a large number of the clients were likely undocumented immigrants. "If his ratio is anything like our ratio," he says, "better than a third of the people with Hispanic surnames looking for the kind of representation he provides are going to turn out to be undocumented." --Megan Feldman

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky