Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Local Governments Cannot Discriminate in Housing

In the case of Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, TX, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found a local ordinance requiring adult residents of rental housing to obtain a license conditioned upon all occupants being a citizen or having lawful immigration status to be unconstitutional. The court stated that the ordinance had the sole purpose of excluding undocumented aliens, specifically Latinos, from the city. According to the court, this presented an obstacle to Federal authority.

The court cited the Third Circuit decision of Lazano v. City of Hazelton, 620 F.3d 220 (3d Cir 2010), in support of it's decision. There, the Third Circuit struck down a local ordinance addressing undocumented aliens in both the employment and housing contexts. The Fifth Circuit noted that Lazano had been vacated by the Supreme Court for further proceedings in light of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, 131 S. Ct. 1968 (2011). However, the Fifth Circuit noted that Whiting only addressed a local ordinance in the employment context, and not in the housing context. Thus, the court found Lazano was still instructive in the housing context.

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