^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
4

In Farmers Branch Immigration Fight, Competing Readings of Supreme Court's Arizona Ruling

Opposing counsel in a six-year legal battle over a proposed Farmers Branch immigration ordinance are trading letters to the judge, arguing, naturally, that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's immigration law supports their side.

Last month, the high court struck down the most controversial provisions of Arizona's law save one, which it left standing only conditionally. The remaining piece was one of the most controversial components of the law, allowing police to verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect is undocumented. The justices left the feds an opening for future lawsuits, saying the provision would remain constitutional only as long as suspected undocumented immigrants guilty of jaywalking, for example, aren't held by police performing an immigration check for longer than they otherwise would be.

Farmers Branch's ordinance, on the other hand, would require every tenant in a rental apartment or home to register with the town building inspector responsible for verifying their lawful immigration status. The ordinance's supporters and Farmers Branch's attorney, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, say the ordinance upholds federal immigration law. Apartment complex owners and documented and undocumented residents, represented by the ACLU and Dallas-based Bickel & Brewer Storefront, say Farmers Branch is stepping all over the feds' toes. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and rejected the ordinance as an unconstitutional attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants, specifically Latinos, from Farmers Branch.

In a letter to the court last month, the ACLU said the Farmers Branch ordinance was akin to the invalidated provision of Arizona's law that required that undocumented immigrants register with the state. They claim it runs "contrary to the requirement of a national voice on immigration policy," as articulated by the Supreme Court.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Days later, Kobach responded, arguing that the high court upheld the part of the Arizona law that was most similar to the Farmers Branch law. Local authorities, he writes, have every right to communicate with the federal government. Kobach balked at the idea that Farmers Branch's registration requirement was trumped by federal law. Citizens, he reasoned, must register along with non-citizens.

On Friday, Bickel & Brewer Storefront responded with its own letter, dismissing Kobach's distinction. There's a big difference, William Brewer wrote, between asking the Feds for information and using that information to deny an alleged undocumented immigrant housing.

Farmers Branch is seeking a rehearing from the full panel of the 5th Circuit. Attorneys arguing against the ordinance say it should be denied.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.