Tuesday, May 22, 2007

So Much for Letting the Voters Decide...

(Also known as, "after two weeks of being too busy to post anything except fluff, it's time for Kev to get topical again.")

This wasn't unexpected, but it's still disappointing to see that there have been three different lawsuits filed against the recent Farmers Branch ordinance--the one that required landlords to verify the legal status of anyone who rented an apartment from them. Despite the fact that this measure passed overwhelmingly--by more than a 2-to-1 margin--it didn't take long for the usual chorus of "community activists" and identity-politicians to try to do an end-around the will of the voters by using the courts to accomplish what they couldn't get done via the ballot box.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened this week. One day before the new ordinance was to go into effect, U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban for the time being:
Judge Lindsay, in a 20-page ruling granting a temporary restraining order, said Farmers Branch had wrongly used federal laws governing who receives housing subsidies to write its ordinance and had created its own classification system for determining which noncitizens may rent an apartment in the city.

"The court recognizes that illegal immigration is a major problem in this country, and one who asserts otherwise ignores reality," Judge Lindsay wrote. "The court also fully understands the frustration of cities attempting to address a national problem that the federal government should handle; however, such frustration, no matter how great, cannot serve as a basis to pass an ordinance that conflicts with federal law."
Well, color me frustrated here. The voters have spoken, and the activists (who organized under the rather deceptive name of "Let the Voters Decide") convinced an unelected federal official to nullify the results of a fair election.

The judge asserts that the federal government has supremacy in the area of immigration law:
udge Lindsay said in the order that because the city is trying to regulate immigration differently from the federal government, the ordinance is in violation of the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have argued that the ordinance ventured into an area – immigration – reserved exclusively for the federal government.
But this wouldn't be necessary if our bloated, inefficient federal government had done its job in the first place (yes, I've ranted about this before). Last week's poor excuse for an immigration bill proposed by Congress (which had the amazing ability to upset people on both sides of the aisle) shows just how out-of-touch our "leaders" really are.

With any luck, the powers-that-be in Farmers Branch will come up with a slightly revised ordinance that passes Constitutional muster; will the judge lift his restraining order after that? Of course, it would be even better if the federal government actually enforced the laws that it already has on the books, but I'm not holding my breath.

And to add insult to injury, a group filed another lawsuit this week, seeking to change the way that Farmers Branch elects its city council members. The suit alleges that the current at-large system of elections "unlawfully dilutes the voting strength of Latino voters and denies them the right to vote on account of their race, color or ethnicity."

OK, wait a minute here. So you're saying that the only way Hispanic candidates can get elected is if Hispanic voters vote for them? That's wrong on so many levels, but it probably explains why many Hispanic "activists" come down on the side of illegal immigrants in the current debates. As much as I don't want to believe this, I guess there really is a group of people out their who will support someone of their same race no matter what--even if that person is breaking the law.

It's time to move beyond race in this country. I hope to elaborate on that tomorrow. In the meantime, stay tuned, because this story isn't going away anytime soon.

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