Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Farmers Branch, Planting Seeds of Fear

Farmers Branch located in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas has voted and passed a measure to fight illegal immigration. The racial makeup of the city, as per the 2000 census was 78.38% White, 2.40% African American, 0.55% Native American, 2.92% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 13.01% from other races, and 2.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 37.23% of the population.

The ordinance passed 3-to-1 and imposes a fine of $500.00 on landlords that rent property undocumented immigrants. More than 3,000 residents out of 14,100 registered voters cast early ballots. That’s about 2,000 more than the total number who voted in each of the past two municipal elections, according to the Dallas County Elections Department.

The passage of the ordinance makes Farmers Branch the first city in the nation to vote on a regulation that will require apartment managers to verify a renters U.S. citizens or legal residency before leasing property to them.

In neighboring Addison, Texas, Mayor Joe Chow, who immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, stated that illegal immigration is a complex issue, and that greater enforcement is needed. The Addison city council recently passed a resolution asking the federal government to take action.

But Chow said an ordinance styled after the one in Farmers Branch would "divide the community."

"As an immigrant myself, a legal immigrant, I feel immigrants have made a lot of contributions to the community," he said.

The Aftermath

The new ordinance is surely to face challenges in court. Maldef and other groups have already indicated their intent on fighting the ordinance in court. In the meantime the ordinance is likely to create an air of uncertainty for immigrant residents in Farmers Branch. Some residents have already begun to quietly move to neighboring cities which they deem more immigrant friendly or at the least less hostile to them.

It is interesting to note that the ordinance passed in Farmers Branch includes exceptions for minors, people ages 62 and over and families of mixed status, those families that include citizen and illegal immigrants.

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