Judge’s Ruling on Farmers Branch Ordinance Clears the Way for New Ordinance to be Enforced

Press Releases

May 29, 2008

A pair of orders issued yesterday by U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay, barring the city of Farmers Branch, Texas from implementing Ordinance 2903, have cleared the way for the city to implement a redrafted ordinance, says the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). The new ordinance reflects key elements of IRLI model harboring legislation.

The substitute, Ordinance 2952, was adopted by the Farmers Branch City Council last January. It provides a means to carry out the will of the voters who approved Ordinance 2903, while ensuring that the city does not infringe upon the federal government’s authority over immigration policy. IRLI is a recognized expert in designing local enforcement policies and has successfully worked with state and local governments to implement laws that allow them to become successful partners with the federal government in enforcement of immigration policies.

“The objective of Farmers Branch is to institute policies that make it difficult for illegal aliens to reside and work in the city,” stated Michael Hethmon, general counsel for IRLI. “The citizens have repeatedly stated at the polls that they want effective local policies to deter illegal immigration. Farmers Branch should not have to shoulder this federal burden, but they have admirably done their civic duty. Cities across the nation can now benefit from the work reflected in the new ordinance.”

In offering the substitute ordinance, the city, in effect, acknowledged in January that the language, as opposed to the concept, of Ordinance 2903 was flawed. However, because Ordinance 2903 was a voter approved initiative it could not be withdrawn before a judge had the opportunity to rule on it.

“Judge Lindsay’s injunction was a very narrow one, and he emphasized that the objectionable language of the original ordinance is not present in the new one,” Hethmon noted. “While the judge objected to several points in Ordinance 2903 because they deviated from federal immigration standards, it is clear from other judicial rulings that federal preemption does not preclude meaningful state and local participation in immigration enforcement. In fact, Congress has made it clear that it welcomes the assistance of state and local governments in this area.”

IRLI is confident that the substitute ordinance will be found constitutional by the courts. IRLI applauds the work of Farmers Branch Mayor Tim O’Hare and the City Council as they implement the expressed will of the voters. “The path has now been cleared, and the city can now move forward with this nationally significant ordinance,” said Hethmon.

IRLI is a public interest law firm working to protect the legal rights, privileges, and property of U.S. citizens in immigration-related matters.

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