WASHINGTON, DC – MALDEF, counsel in challenges to nearly identical local anti-immigrant housing ordinances in Nebraska and Texas, welcomed today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision refusing to review a decision by the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the Farmers Branch, Texas tenant-licensing ordinance is an unconstitutional intrusion on the exclusive federal authority to regulate immigration. The Supreme Court’s action today supports MALDEF’s request that the Supreme Court review the related case against the City of Fremont, Nebraska. In the Fremont case, a divided panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a tenant-licensing scheme nearly identical to the one struck down in Farmers Branch.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to deny review is entirely consistent with its decision two years ago in Arizona v. United States,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “Today’s action is an ominous warning to those insistent on defending Fremont’s pernicious and unlawful regulation of the relationship between landlords and their tenants.”
In February 2012, a Nebraska district court blocked the City of Fremont’s ordinance authorizing the cancellation of a rental license on the basis of a person’s immigration status, concluding, in part, that the ordinance was preempted by federal immigration law. A divided panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision in June 2013. Last week MALDEF filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review that split decision.
“Supreme Court review of the Fremont ordinance is absolutely necessary in this case because the Eighth Circuit’s ruling now encourages other states and localities in that region of the country to enact similar laws to expel their immigrant populations, thus, creating a patchwork of immigration policies that will diminish the federal government’s control over the subject,” said MALDEF Midwest Regional Counsel, Alonzo Rivas.
The Supreme Court’s decision marks the end of a lengthy series of attempts to unconstitutionally regulate immigrants who seek to live in Farmers Branch, Texas. MALDEF and co-counsel have fought successfully over several years to block these attempts. Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation, who argued the case successfully in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, stated “The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the City’s final appeal. After more than 7 years of litigation, during which the City lost at every stage, it is time for Farmers Branch to let go of its immigration ordinance. Today’s ruling is a strong message that local immigration laws are unconstitutional and hurt cities by wasting precious resources and undermining community relationships.”