People For the American Way scored a big victory for fairness when U.S. District Judge John A. Houston ordered a temporary restraining order against Escondido’s anti-immigrant housing ordinance.
PFAW is serving as co-counsel along with other civil rights organizations in fighting an ordinance that seeks to ban renting an apartment to, or otherwise “harboring” any person “not lawfully present” in the United States. In ordering the TRO, Judge Houston expressed serious concerns about the constitutionality of the ordinance and the harm it could cause the people of Escondido – the same concerns that prompted us to mount this challenge.
We argued this ordinance violated federal and state anti-discrimination laws. This victory and a recent judicial decision in the Hazleton, Pa. case that also put the brakes on an anti-immigrant ordinance there seem to indicate we are on the right track in fighting these divisive, xenophobic ordinances.
“We all know that our immigration system is in need of reform, but this ordinance only feeds anti-immigrant hysteria and discrimination against all of Escondido’s Latino residents, regardless of their legal status,” said Melissa Daar, policy and field director in California for People For the American Way. “The council is trying to take the easy way out with this ordinance. Instead of finding real solutions to Escondido’s problems, council members thought they could scapegoat a group that can’t fight back. But they stepped out of legal bounds, and we can fight them on that.
“Hopefully, the new Escondido council will reconsider proceeding with this ordinance before wasting more taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit defending an illegal and unnecessary ordinance.”