DALLAS – A U.S. judge halted enforcement Tuesday of an ordinance banning apartment rentals to most illegal immigrants in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch.
The ordinance, the first of its kind in the United States, would require landlords to verify that apartment renters are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them. Some exceptions are made for the elderly and minors. ViolPrevenators face fines of up to $500 (euro369.5), and each day would be considered a separate violation.
The fight over the ordinance has taken on national importance in the ongoing debate over what to do about the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
The judge already granted a temporary restraining order May 21, a day before the ordinance was to take effect, saying public approval of the ordinance does not mean the ordinance is legal.
The temporary retraining order will remain in effect until June 19, the judge ruled Tuesday. That is when the judge will decide whether to issue an injunction until all legal challenges to the ordinance are settled.
Attorneys for the city had no comment after the hearing.
Opponents of the ordinance have sued, calling it unconstitutional, discriminatory and too vague.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union say poor families could be thrown out of homes and some could be forced to split up.
Apartment owners and managers are concerned they have little or no training on the ordinance and documents needed to establish immigration status. Yet they face legal repercussions if they break the law.