Immigration law challenged

December 27, 2006|By Los Angeles Times

HOUSTON -- A Dallas suburb that has barred landlords from renting to illegal immigrants was sued yesterday by two civil rights groups that allege the ordinance turns property owners into immigration agents and violates federal law.

The challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund seeks to derail a new law that would require property managers to check the immigration status of apartment renters in Farmers Branch, Texas. The ordinance, approved last month, is set to take effect Jan. 12.

Farmers Branch - a city of 28,000 north of Dallas that is about 37 percent Latino - is one of dozens of municipalities around the country that, frustrated with federal government inaction, have adopted tough local measures to stem illegal immigration.

The Farmers Branch ordinance is seen as a turning point for Texas, a state that largely has avoided the kind of confrontational immigration policies commonplace elsewhere.

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