There is an interesting twist to the continuing sage of the Farmers Branch, Texas efforts to restrict housing in that city to legal residents, and to exclude illegal immigrants. The latest census data show that Hispanics are now the largest demographic group in Farmers Branch, edging out whites. This was the subject of a story in the Dallas Morning News, and here are excerpts:

New census data shows the complexion of Farmers Branch is changing dramatically, giving activists fresh ammunition for their legal efforts and adding fuel to the debates over representation and illegal immigration in the city.

The estimates, released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau, reveal that Hispanics have eclipsed whites to become the city’s largest demographic group. Residents overall are skewing older, and the median household income has declined.

On the city’s biggest issue – its ongoing efforts to drive illegal immigrants from the city – the information is far less conclusive.

The figures, part of the American Community Survey, represent a composite of surveys taken from 2005 to 2007. It provides the first look at Farmers Branch socioeconomically and demographically since the 2000 Census. A Dallas Morning News analysis of the statistics showed:

•Hispanics accounted for 46.7 percent of the city’s population, while whites made up 46.1 percent. In 2000, whites accounted for 55.8 percent, compared with 37.2 percent for Hispanics.

•The number of residents who speak Spanish at home increased, while the number who speak only English decreased.

•Home values have risen, but the majority of homes are valued at $150,000 or less.

Experts caution against drawing too many conclusions from the data, because some of the figures are built upon estimates with a significant margin of error. But they agree that the information draws a compelling picture of change.

Council member Tim Scott, who reviewed the census figures, said the statistics show a city in desperate need of renewal.

Residents who lived in their homes for decades have moved out, leaving aging houses that draw new residents with lower income and education levels, Mr. Scott said.

“That’s just not sustainable as a city going forward, which is why we need some wholesale revitalization,” he said.

Besides the voting rights lawsuit, Farmers Branch has been tied up in litigation over efforts to ban most illegal immigrants from renting apartments and homes.