JANUARY 25, 2008
The federal government is refusing to help a Texas town that wants to crack down on illegal immigration by denying access to a database that would determine whether applicants who want to rent housing are in the country legally.
Desperate to curb the large influx of illegal aliens that have taken a toll on schools and other public services, officials in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch first passed a law barring apartment rentals to illegal immigrants in November 2006. A federal judge blocked its enforcement, however, saying that the ordinance deputized landlords to serve as federal immigration agents and that city officials were regulating immigration differently from the federal government.
So the measure was rewritten to make the city building inspector, instead of private landlords, in charge of verifying the information of non U.S. citizens since a federal statute requires U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to respond to any state or local government’s inquiry about a person’s immigration status.
The agency uses a database called Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) designed for employment verification and to determine whether the immigration status of a person entitles them to a taxpayer-funded state or federal benefit. Farmers Branch wants immigration officials to help them enforce immigration laws by granting them access to that database.
Unfortunately and perhaps not surprisingly, the feds have rejected the idea, questioning whether it is lawful and appropriate to use the coveted system for such a cause. After all, if illegal immigrants are renting apartments in the city they are likely working (illegally, of course) and using public benefits that they are not entitled to. The SAVE database was created precisely to stop this.
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