The Farmers Branch, Texas city council could repeal its ordinance that prevents landlords from renting to illegal immigrants in a vote scheduled today. Farmers Branch’s current ordinance, passed in November, requires apartment managers to obtain proof that tenants are U.S. citizens or in the country legally. Council members also approved resolutions making English the official language of the Farmers Branch, and allowing local authorities to become part of a federal program so they can enforce immigration laws.
Landlords who do not enforce the ordinance face fines of up to $100 per day per violation. Under current practices in Texas, tenants typically provide not much more than a driver’s license or other photo identification to prospective landlords.
A resident of Farmers Branch, Guillermo Ramos, filed a suit in state district court against the city. The suit alleges that the city violated open meetings laws by debating the merits of the existing ordinance behind closed doors, then voting on it in an open meeting, but not giving residents a chance to see the wording of the ordinance or comment on it before the council vote.
On January 11, District Court Judge Bruce Priddy issued a temporary restraining order delaying enforcement of the ordinance. Last week, the city council asked the city attorney to draft a new version of the ordinance to put to voters in a May election.