Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Farmers Branch Fights Illegial Tenants Again

FARMERS BRANCH – City officials whose previous attempts to keep out illegal immigrants have been blocked by the courts took another shot Tuesday, adopting an ordinance that would not only ban them from renting apartments but also from renting houses.

The City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 2952, which would require all renters to pay a $5 fee and claim U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status to obtain an occupancy license from the city.

About 40 people spoke during the roughly two-hour meeting, with a slight majority in favor of the ordinance.

"We've got to put a sword in the sand sometime, and I think this is it," resident Dale Cotton said.

Supporters said that while the ordinance may not resolve the illegal immigration issue, it's a step in the right direction. And some, led by council member Jim Smith, said they'd like to see the city also go after employers who hire illegal workers.

But opponents said they believe the law will also get hung up in the courts and ultimately be found unconstitutional. Others said the licensing process will cause potential renters to move to other cities and cause financial losses for property owners.

Here's the new ordinance at a glance:

•Prospective tenants will have to apply for an occupancy license.
•The application form will ask whether the person is in the U.S. legally.
•Anyone who completes the form and pays $5 will get a license and be allowed to move in.
•The city will verify noncitizens' legal status through a federal database.
•Anyone identified as being in the U.S. illegally will get 60 days to prove otherwise.
•Violators – tenants or landlords – will face fines of $500 a day.

No comments: