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MALDEF and ACLU Begin Their Full-Court Press in Farmers Branch

Illustration by Craig LaRotonda

You already knew Saturday's election in Farmers Branch, where voters overwhelmingly approved the law that bans apartments from renting to illegal immigrants, was only the beginning of the battle. Today, we get a better of idea of where this thing's headed:

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas (ACLU) this morning filed a request for a temporary restraining order today to block implementation of the ordinance, which a MALDEF attorney calls "ill-conceived" and which an ACLU higher-up calls "bad policy [that's] likely also unconstitutional."

The press release from both MALDEF and the ACLU is after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky

ACLU, MALDEF FILE REQUEST FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER IN IMMIGRATION ORDINANCE CHALLENGE

Ordinance will go into effect May 22, 2007

FARMERS BRANCH, TX - The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas (ACLU) filed a request for a temporary restraining order today to block implementation of an anti-immigrant ordinance which was initially adopted by the Farmers Branch City Council November 13, 2006 and recently approved by Farmers Branch residents through a public vote on Saturday, May 12, 2007. The ordinance is scheduled to go into effect on May 22, 2007.

"The Ordinance is ill-conceived. Beyond violating the rights of both landlords and tenants, the Ordinance will hurt all of Farmers Branch by creating racial division and damaging the City's reputation," said Nina Perales, Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF.

"It is unfortunate that the residents of Farmers Branch have chosen to implement a law which is not only bad policy, but is likely also unconstitutional," added Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas. "Now the issue will have to be resolved in federal court."

Attorneys for the ACLU and MALDEF will continue with the suit filed on December 26, 2006 in federal district court on behalf of residents and landlords who will be adversely affected by the ordinance. The lawsuit maintains that the ordinance is in direct violation of federal immigration law and illegally puts landlords in the untenable situation of serving as federal law enforcement agents. The complaint also alleges that the ordinance violates the fundamental rights of both landlords and tenants.

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