OpinionOpinion L.A.

Housing ordinances can't be anti-immigrant cudgels

A federal appeals court Monday struck down a controversial ordinance that sought to ban landlords in the Texas community of Farmers Branch from renting to immigrants who are illegally in the country.

The 2008 ordinance, which never took effect, required renters to obtain a city license verifying they were in the country legally, and made it a crime for a landlord to rent to anyone without a license.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is hardly surprising, given that Farmers Branch officials argued that the law wasn't trying to regulate immigration; rather, they said, it was merely an attempt to regulate housing.

Such arguments are disingenuous. As The Times’ editorial page wrote last August, the goal of the Farmers Branch ordinance was clear from the start: to drive out illegal immigrants by making it impossible for them to find a place to live. In fact, that is the same underlying aim of Arizona's noxious SB 1070 law, which sought attrition through enforcement by making the day-to-day lives of undocumented immigrants so difficult that they would self-deport.

Clearly, the appeals court got it right, deferring to the Supreme Court, which ruled last year that most of the Arizona law was an illegal intrusion on the federal government’s authority to set immigration policy.

But it was Judge Thomas Reavley’s concurring opinion that I think provides the most eloquent explanation for why such laws have no place on the books.

Reavley rightly notes that the ordinance's real "purpose and effect" is "the exclusion of Latinos from the city of Farmers Branch." And such efforts to single out "illegal immigrants for adverse treatment is reminiscent of the ‘anti-Japanese fever’ that existed in the 1940s." Such legislation, he writes, "is not entitled to wear the cloak of constitutionality."

ALSO:

Boycott Florida? No.

Perils of 'stand your ground'

American education and the IQ trap

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Customs and Border Protection's deadly force problem
    Customs and Border Protection's deadly force problem

    The new head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's internal affairs office made a troubling assertion late last week. Since 2004, he said, the agency has apparently taken no disciplinary action against any of its agents who have used deadly force. That follows a report released in...

  • In a world full of persecution, how many people can the U.S. protect?
    In a world full of persecution, how many people can the U.S. protect?

    There is no question that Aminta Cifuentes' marriage was not just bad but a threat to her life. Her husband beat her regularly. He burned her breast with caustic paint thinner. He raped her. When police were called, the officers refused to intervene; then, he threatened to kill her if...

Comments
Loading