In what is becoming a financial disaster for the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch, a judge has now ordered collection of more electronic documents from the city. As everyone probably knows, Farmers Branch has been trying for quite a while to enact city ordinances banning illegal immigrants from living there. Each attempt has been met with lawsuits, always resulting in more legal fees for the city and much wasted productivity.
This is more evidence that the federal government needs to step up and take responsibility for immigration law enforcement and reform. We can’t continue to have cities and states waste valuable resources trying to do the work of the federal government. Here are excerpts from a Dallas Morning News story about the latest Farmers Branch immigration news:
State District Judge Bruce Priddy ruled that a third party would be hired to collect the city documents because initial efforts had not been satisfactory. He also ruled that the city would have to pay all the costs, at least initially.
Attorneys for the plaintiff said the ruling was a sanction against the city for failing to comply with a court order to turn over all documents related to the city’s ordinances. A lawyer for the city said Farmers Branch had prevailed in its efforts to keep some documents privileged. “This ruling goes to the heart of the matter,” said William A. Brewer III, who represents a Farmers Branch resident suing the city. “The city continues to frustrate the public’s right to know. … The lawsuit complains that the city is doing business not in public, when it drafts and deliberates and debates city business.”
Resident Guillermo Ramos has alleged that the city violated the Open Meetings Act in deliberating and acting on the various anti-illegal immigrant ordinances it has passed since 2006.
This week’s action is the latest development in the city’s efforts to ban rental housing for illegal immigrants.
Farmers Branch initially passed an ordinance in November 2006 requiring apartment managers to obtain documents showing that tenants are U.S. citizens or legal residents. The city subsequently repealed that ordinance, then approved a similar one that was also put up for a citywide vote.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure, but it was challenged in court. In August, a federal judge ruled against the ordinance. While that case was working its way through the courts, the Farmers Branch City Council adopted another ordinance, but its implementation has been halted pending the outcome of a lawsuit.
The latest ordinance requires people renting a home or apartment to declare their citizenship or that they are in the country lawfully and to obtain a city rental occupancy license. Information from noncitizens would be verified through a federal database.