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Court Rules Against Dallas Suburb That Barred Renting To Illegal Immigrants

Back in 2006, when many municipalities across the country took Arizona's lead passing stringent laws against illegal immigrants, the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch became a kind of poster boy.

With much controversy, the city passed legislation that among other things barred anyone from renting property to undocumented immigrants.

Yesterday, after more than six years and a legal battle that cost the city of 29,000 residents at least $6 million, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled the ordinance was unconstitutional because it infringed upon federal government duties.

NPR member station KERA reports:

"The ordinance would have required all renters to obtain licenses before renting. City inspectors would've been able to check an immigrant's status and deny licenses to any undocumented workers. Landlords who rented to immigrants without permits would have faced fines or removal of their renters' licenses.

"Other towns have fought to put in place similar laws with mixed success. A federal appeals court ruled against a renter's ordinance in Hazleton, Pa., but a different court ruled in favor of another ordinance in Fremont, Neb."

The latest ruling, reports The Dallas Morning News, relies heavily on a Supreme Court decision declaring parts of Arizona's immigration laws unconstitutional. The paper reports:

"Judges also found fault with the city's plan to fine or revoke the renters' licenses of landlords who leased to immigrants without permits.

"'The ordinance not only criminalizes occupancy of a rented apartment or single-family residence, but puts local officials in the impermissible position of arresting and detaining persons based on their immigration status without federal direction and supervision,' the court said."

The city said it would review its options. This was the city's second appeal.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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