Skip to comments.LANDLORDS BLAST ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT RULE (FARMER'S BRANCH)
Posted on 11/15/2006 3:21:58 AM PST by MeneMeneTekelUpharsin
Apartment owners in Dallas suburb say it isn't their job to police tenants' status
FARMERS BRANCH A day after this Dallas suburb passed a controversial measure barring landlords from renting to illegal immigrants, apartment owners denounced the new rule Tuesday, saying they are ill-equipped to police tenants' immigration status. ''The last thing I want to be doing is asking, 'Where's your papers?' " said Angie Iraheta, manager of the 142-unit Villa Marquis Apartments. ''And how am I supposed to know if what they're giving me is real?" Under the ordinance, which takes effect in January, landlords must ask new tenants to provide proof of citizenship or residency for every person living in the unit, from newborns to the elderly, or be fined up to $500 per undocumented person, per day.
A number of landlords and apartment associations blasted the new rule, complaining they weren't allowed any input into the decision, were singled out among the business community and weren't given clear enforcement guidelines. ''Landlords can't really serve as law enforcement or be held accountable for carrying out a function that belongs with the government," said Gerry Henigsman, executive vice president of the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas, which represents 1,600 apartment owners in the region, including the dozen or so complexes in Farmers Branch that will be affected by the new ordinance. "Farmers Branch conveniently moves the responsibility for immigration enforcement to the landlord and says, 'If you don't do it we're going to fine you,' " he said.
Henigsman said the Farmers Branch City Council passed its ordinance without giving his group an opportunity to comment. Council members allowed people to voice their opposition or support of the measure only after the vote was taken Monday. "I was shocked they passed it and after the fact said they were going to allow public input," said Henigsman, who had prepared to address the council. "It kind of defeats the whole idea of public input." He noted that Farmers Branch dropped a proposal to penalize businesses for hiring illegal immigrants and instead singled out apartment housing. "I think it's telling illegal immigrants, 'We don't mind you working in our city in minimum-wage jobs, cutting our grass. We don't mind you spending money in our stores. We just don't want you living here and sending your children to our schools," he said. Iraheta, at the Villa Marquis, said a mix of immigrants lives in the 37-year-old complex, where rents range from $495 to $800 a month. "We have Asians, Mexicans, a little of everything," she said. "This is going to be bad for business. It's not very welcoming."
Farmers Branch council member Tim O'Hare, who initiated the measure, and Mayor Bob Phelps, who supported it, did not return repeated calls from the Houston Chronicle seeking comment Tuesday. In addition to the rental rule, the council resolved Monday to make English its official language, meaning city business will be done in English, and voted to enroll police officers in a federal training program that will make them de facto immigration officers.
'It won't hurt me'
Not all Farmers Branch landlords oppose the new ordinance. "There's going to be some hard feelings brought about, but I'm sure it's going to put a damper on some of this illegal immigration into the city," said J.L. Stewart, who owns several rental houses in the city and actively supported the new restrictions. Stewart's rentals will not be affected by the ordinance, which covers only apartment complexes and exempts current tenants with leases. However, after six months it could be extended to cover rental houses. "It won't hurt me because I check on that already," said Stewart, who lived in the city for three decades before moving out two years ago. He said he does not check immigration papers but requires that tenants speak English. "That pretty much cuts out the illegals," he said. Farmers Branch is the first city in Texas to pass an illegal immigrant rental ban, but at least three cities across the country have enacted similar measures: Escondido, Calif.; Hazleton, Pa.; and Valley Park, Mo. The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund won a restraining order against the Hazleton ordinance. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund similarly put a temporary halt to the Missouri ordinance, but there are jurisdictional questions as to whether MALDEF should have filed in federal court instead of state district court. And on Thursday, a federal judge in California will consider granting MALDEF's request to block enforcement of Escondido's ban.
Groups are reviewing
Marisol Perez, a staff attorney with MALDEF's southwest regional office in Austin, said her organization is reviewing the Farmers Branch measure. ''We are concerned," Perez said. ''It puts landlords in a very difficult position. It's asking them to act as immigration officers." The ban also puts a burden on legal immigrants, she said, who will have to present proof that they are legal residents. George Allen, executive vice president of the Texas Apartment Association in Austin, said his organization also is reviewing the ordinance to see if it can be defeated legally. ''We need time to digest the ordinance, to have our attorneys look it over," Allen said. ''It's unfair to target one industry." Under current practices in Texas, he said, tenants typically provide not much more than a driver's license or other photo identification to prospective landlords.
Terri Langford reported from Houston.
I don't think it is 'one industry.' Smoking police have been in the restaurant business and other businesses for some time--and smoking is legal. Furthermore, you may have to show ID to buy smokes.
Learn to deal with it.
Agreed. It isn't only one industry. However it is another example where the Government, failing to enforce their own laws are mandating that the private sector do their job for them.
"Cutting our grass" Quit the bs. With all the free services you get you earn way more than I do. Low wages my a$$.
You may have misunderstood me. If you have read some of my other posts...waiting for someone with backbone AND backing to stand up and let folks know which end is up. Backbone here, no backing.
And I agree with you, however, I do wonder just how many of those landowners backed the smoking bans and laws? How many will back the food police, etc. I am sick of a minority of peoples' ability to get the attention to promote their cause resulting in the nanny state.
I also like the analogy of the requirement to verify ID for tobacco and alchohol.
If landlords will even minimally implement these requirements of the law, they'll find the quality of life improving exponentially in Farmers Branch; as it would in any other area that enforces immigration laws.
Under the ordinance, which takes effect in January, landlords must ask new tenants to provide proof of citizenship or residency for every person living in the unit, from newborns to the elderly, or be fined up to $500 per undocumented person, per day.
More on Hazelton's law.
Wow, maybe I should start claiming racism because I had to do all that paperwork.
Any Landlord who doesn't do the things youe describe is not on the up and up....I got turned down back in my calledge days for missing a payment on a previous rental. One more note,if I was a legal tenant in this complex mentioned in the article,I would move out.
These landlords (in most cases slumlords) have been using illegal aliens as cashcows for years. The can charge the illegals all the market will bear and they never have to worry about the illegal's complaining about problems with the apartments because of their fear of being reported to INS.
Landlords and business's that cater toward illegals and hire illegals should all be targeted with huge civil and criminal penalties. Many of the illegals will quickly go home or not come in the first place if they can't find a place to live, get a job, or even get a check cashed.
In fact, I'm of the opinion that you should have to provide proof that you are a citizen or in the country legally to get any utilities turned on, make any sort of wire transfers or other financial transactions or even make any large scale purchases such as a automobile or home.
Apartments at 550 E. Bethany Dr. Allen TX.
ILLEGALS abound, you should have a job for a long time.
I'm sure you will be right over.
It's called a green card. Is it really such of a burden to pull one out of your wallet?
That was not directed at you personally. It was to the whiners in the article who reciet the name bs over and over.
Our government as well as forieners are trying to gut our country as fast as they can. It just takes longer because America is a big country. They are trying to make us go broke.