APRIL 09, 2009
A Dallas suburb that has spent millions to defend an ordinance to curb illegal immigration has been ordered by a judge to pay nearly $500,000 to cover the legal fees of those who challenged the measure.
Farmers Branch will dish out $470,000 this week to pay the attorneys’ fees of immigration advocates who opposed its law to oust illegal immigrants from the city. Passed by lawmakers in 2006 and overwhelmingly endorsed by voters, the measure banned apartment rentals to illegal aliens and required landlords to verify legal status in the country.
Last May a federal judge ruled that the law is unconstitutional because only the federal government can regulate immigration. U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay said that city leaders in Farmers Branch violated the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution because they didn’t defer to the federal government on this immigration matter. That, in turn, allows the federal government to pre-empt local laws, according to the judge.
Many other cities across the nation have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend legal challenges to laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Some of the nation’s smaller municipalities have been forced to abandon their measures in order to avoid costly litigation. The first was a southern New Jersey town (Riverside), which actually reversed a law that punished those who hire or rent to illegal aliens under threat of litigation by a notoriously liberal civil rights group. Others (in Escondido California and Hazleton Pennsylvania) have been defeated in court.
But not all local efforts to curb illegal immigration have failed. In the last few years measures denying taxpayer-funded services to illegal immigrants survived legal challenges in Oklahoma and Virginia’s Prince William County. A federal judge also upheld a landmark Arizona law that severely punishes businesses that hire illegal aliens.
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