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 would assume that proof of citizenship (birth certificate or US passport) would be all that would be required of US citizens, and US visas are actually fairly hard to fake. Unfortunately the US government doesn't like to show people what those visas look like so it's difficult to look at one and say 'yes, this is real.' I haven't seen samples on the USCIS's website at all.
Bullcrap! Every time I rented an apartment, the landlord ran a thorough credit check on me before signing the lease. That's a whole lot more than "where's your papers?"
That's what good landlords do. It's the slumlords who are unhappy.
They are slumlords, and they don't maintain their places.
No way this flies unless tenants lose property rights. Surprise inspections and warrantless searches for evidence of occupancy must be allowed.
I agree that the landlords cannot police immigration, but they can check for "license to rent"--!
In Europe, you cannot rent a motel room without a passport.
Maybe its time for the Fire Marshall to inspect some apartments in that area. See how many folks are living in one hole.
Papers? We don't need no stinking papers!
Yup. Somebody didn't do their job, and now they want landlords to take up the slack.
IMO, LEO all around the country should have one reaction if they find an illegal - a one way bus ticket to DC!
''We are concerned," Perez said. ''It puts landlords in a very difficult position. It's asking them to act as immigration officers."
I do agree to a point.
Our Immigration officials, unfortunately, have failed to the job they are being paid for, so all of us now have to take up the slack, in one form or fashion.
Wow! Posted at the same time! FReepers (same thing as great minds) do think alike.
DC? It might also be nice to send them to one of these so-called "safe-cities". San Fran I think being one of them.
I hope thousands of municipalities do this. It should keep these leftest groups busy for awhile.
I don't understand why people are bothering with this.
The illegals and open-borders crowd won via the election last Tuesday.
It's all over. The border will really be erased and amnesty the law
in less than a year.
I used to work over in that area 15+ years ago. If you went to the post office on the wrong day, it was full of Mexicans sending money home.
I would guess that a lot of the landlords that are screaming rent mostly to this crowd (and there are probably more of them now than there were back then).
Right on target.