Suburb has new plan for immigrants

January 18, 2008 2:43:27 PM PST
The Dallas suburb that was blocked by courts from enforcing an ordinance banning landlords from renting to illegal immigrants is jumping back into the fray. The Farmers Branch City Council plans to consider a new ordinance Tuesday that would require the city and federal government, not the landlords, to determine who is in the country legally, The Dallas Morning News reported on its Web site Thursday.

City leaders first approved a ban on rentals to illegal immigrants in November 2006, then revised it a year ago to include some exemptions. Residents voted in May to approve the rule.

But a federal judge blocked Farmers Branch from enforcing the ordinance after finding city officials had tried to regulate immigration differently from the federal government.

"I am confident this new proposal is consistent with the intent of Farmers Branch voters and will withstand any legal challenges," Mayor Pro Tem Tim O'Hare told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

The new proposal would require adults wanting to lease a house or apartment to get an occupancy license from the city and provide information about their citizenship or legal status. The information would be checked against a federal database to determine whether applicants were in the country legally.

If federal authorities can't confirm a person has permission to live in the country, the license holder and landlord would be notified. The renter would have 60 days to provide proof of legal status.

Violations of the ordinance could result in a fine as high as $500 per day.

Nationwide, more than 100 cities or counties have proposed, passed or rejected laws prohibiting landlords from leasing to illegal immigrants, penalizing businesses that employ undocumented workers or training police to enforce immigration laws.

- Headlines at a glance