Monday, May 14, 2007

Houston Suburb Votes to Ban Leases to Illegals

The town of Farmers Branch has taken a strong step in the fight to prevent illegal immigration. In Saturday's election, 67 percent of the voters in this Houston suburbe voted to pass an ordinance that would prohibit landlords from leasing apartments to illegal immigrants. From the Houston Chronicle:
"We are fed up with the federal government's inaction on immigration," said City Councilman Tim O'Hare, who sponsored the rental ban. "We are not going to wait. We are going to take care of it."

Bill Brewer, a Dallas lawyer who has filed two lawsuits against the rental measure and financed much of the campaign against it, said he would ask for a court to enjoin enforcement "very soon."

"If this ordinance was intended, as we believe, to target Latinos and drive them out, that is unconstitutional and we think the courts will agree," he said.

Nina Perales, southwest regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said her group would act quickly to prevent the ordinance from going into force.

If not blocked in court, it will go into effect on May 22.

Two pro-ordinance candidates running for open seats on the city's five-member council also were elected by wide margins.

Saturday's election, which was overseen by poll watchers from the U.S. Justice Department, was the first time a local measure aimed at undocumented residents has gone before voters, although similar apartment laws have been adopted in Hazelton, Pa., Valley Park, Mo., and Riverside, N.J.

Turnout for the controversial measure was expected to be the largest in city history.


The rental ban would require mangers to obtain proof of citizenship or legal immigration status before leasing apartments in multifamily complexes. All occupants — except minors and those over age 62 — would be covered. Landlords would face fines of up to $500 per day.
Anti-illegal immigration activists might take a cue from the overwhelming vote total and might mount a campaign to have state laws put on teh books through initiatives to put in place similar bans. I would expect such a move in initiative happy California.

People opposing illegal immigration, at least those who are rational in their oppostion have long believed that if ICE and other police agencies were to target employers who hire illegals more frequently, the labor market for illegal immigrant labor would begin to dry up. Likewise, if you take away their ability to obtain housing, illegal immigration would also dry up.

Of course, the problem is that not all states have an initiative process, but it is the best place to start.


Michael said...

What I find the most fascinating was that they had poll watchers from DOJ. You have to be surprised that the pro-enforcement side won.

JTR said...

Someone please tell the author that Farmers Branch is a suburb of Dallas, not Houston. Houston is over 300 miles from Farmers Branch...