Texas Landlords Sue Over Immigration Law

The Associated Press
Friday, December 22, 2006; 10:04 PM

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas -- The owners of three apartment complexes in this Dallas suburb asked a federal judge Friday to declare unconstitutional a new law that bans renting to illegal immigrants.

Their lawsuit also seeks to keep the city from enforcing the ordinance on Jan. 12, when it is scheduled to go into effect.

Last month, City Council members voted to fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, make English the city's official language and allow local authorities to screen suspects in police custody to check their immigration status.

A council member said then he expected the new laws to be challenged in court.

The three apartment owners are suing the city, the mayor, the council members and the city's building inspector.

Farmers Branch Assistant City Manager Mary Jane Stevenson said Friday that city officials were examining the lawsuit and could not comment.

In a separate lawsuit filed this month, a Farmers Branch resident alleges the mayor repeatedly violated the state's open meetings laws to deliberate the ordinances.

Opponents of the ordinances have also submitted a petition they hope will force a public vote on the measures. If the city verifies 726 signatures, a vote is expected in May.

Farmers Branch has a population of nearly 28,000, about 37 percent Hispanic, according to the census.

© 2006 The Associated Press