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Judge blocks Texas town's citizenship requirement

June 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

DALLAS — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch from enforcing a voter-approved law prohibiting apartment rentals to illegal immigrants until a legal challenge is resolved.

U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay issued a temporary restraining order in May; he issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday.

"Farmers Branch, rather than deferring to the federal government's determination of immigration status, has created its own classification scheme for determining which noncitizens may rent an apartment," Lindsay wrote.

The law would have required apartment managers to verify that renters are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them, with a few exceptions. Landlords would have faced fines of up to $500 per day for violating the measure.

Opponents of the law are preparing for a trial, said William A. Brewer III, lead counsel for three apartment complexes suing Farmers Branch. They plan to seek damages in the millions for the business they've lost since the ordinance was announced, plus legal fees, Brewer said.

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