Voters in the Dallas, Texas suburb of Farmers Branch on Saturday approved a city ordinance that prohibits landlords from leasing apartments to most illegal immigrants. The measure, which is set to become effective May 22, requires persons wishing to rent an apartment to show proof of U.S. citizenship or that they are legal immigrants. Minors and tenants who are 62 years of age or older do not have to prove their immigration status. Families that consist of U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants may rent apartments only if they are current tenants, if the head of the household or spouse is legally in the U.S. and if the family is made up of only a spouse, their minor children or parents. Landlords who fail to implement the law will face a misdemeanor penalty fine of up to $500.
The ordinance is a revised version of a previous ordinance that was blocked by a temporary restraining order after civil rights organizations, property owners and residents sued the suburb. It is the first public vote by a local government out of the more than 90 measures proposed nationwide to eliminate illegal immigration. Opponents of the ordinance plan to challenge it in court on the basis that it is discriminatory, requires landlords to act like federal immigration officers, and attempts to regulate immigration.