Judge Grants ACLU, MALDEF Request for preliminary injunction in immigration ordinance challenge

FARMERS BRANCH, TX – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Texas and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) won a preliminary injunction today to block implementation of an anti-immigrant ordinance in Farmers Branch. The ordinance was initially adopted by the Farmers Branch City Council in January and was approved by Farmers Branch residents in a referendum vote on Saturday, May 12. The preliminary injunction will prevent the ordinance from going into effect until a ruling is reached in the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and MALDEF challenging the legality of the ordinance.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Sam A. Lindsay granted attorneys for the ACLU and MALDEF a temporary restraining order (TRO) to block implementation of the ordinance. The preliminary injunction will maintain the status quo through the duration of the trial.

“Around the nation, every judge who has reviewed these local anti-immigrant ordinances has put a stop to them,” said Nina Perales, Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF and attorney who argued the preliminary injunction motion. “Immigration reform is a federal responsibility and local anti-immigrant ordinances only hurt city economies and community relations,” continued Perales.

“We believe that the preliminary injunction will be made permanent should this case proceed to trial,” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas. “Today’s decision should serve as a cautionary tale for other Texas municipalities that have considered similar ordinances: they will best serve their constituents if they concentrate local dollars on local issues such as schools, law enforcement, and community improvement.”

Attorneys for MALDEF, the ACLU of Texas and the ACLU Immigrants Rights Project filed their lawsuit against the city on December 26, 2006 in federal district court on behalf of residents and landlords who will be adversely affected by a predecessor of the current ordinance. The lawsuit maintains that the ordinance violates federal immigration law and illegally puts landlords in the untenable position of serving as federal law enforcement agents. The complaint also alleges that the ordinance violates the fundamental rights of both landlords and tenants.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF, the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through litigation, advocacy, community education and outreach, leadership development, and higher education scholarships.

The ACLU of Texas is the state affiliate of the national ACLU, which was founded in 1920 to defend and preserve the civil liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution.