MALDEF Opposes Anti-Immigrant City Ordinance In Escondido

Civil Rights Advocacy Organization Speaks Out Against Requiring Private Citizens of Escondido to Enforce Federal Immigration Law

August 16, 2006

ESCONDIDO, CA – Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), announced its strong opposition to the Escondido City Council’s proposed and discussed anti-immigrant ordinance. The proposal would penalize landlords for renting to undocumented immigrants and would make English the city’s official language. Councilwoman Marie Waldron offered the proposal at today’s city council meeting.

“From Hazelton, PA to Arizona, states and municipalities have attempted to adopt divisive, unproductive and illegal measures, purportedly to address immigration concerns,” said Kristina Campbell, MALDEF Staff Attorney. “The implementation of such an ordinance will expose the city of Escondido and its residents to lawsuits and subject employers and property owners to substantial civil and criminal fines. If enacted, the ordinance would effectively turn landlords and business owners into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents,” added Campbell.

The proposed ordinance imposes federal jurisdiction on private citizens, business owners and landlords. California and Federal courts have already ruled against similar measures in LULAC v. Wilson, and Plyler v. Doe maintaining that it is an infringement on federal authority for local governments to enforce immigration policy.

Before the City Council today, Campbell relayed the incoherence of making private individuals and local governments responsible for ensuring federal law saying, “The focus of immigration reform should remain on those charged with enforcing immigration law—the federal government. The Escondido City Council should join other local legislative bodies to endorse fair, bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. It would be cruel and burdensome for this City Council to shift that responsibility to landlords and employers trying to make a living in Escondido.”

MALDEF will continue to educate community members on these important matters across the county and prepare for possible litigation based on the unconstitutional ordinances where they have been enacted.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund