Kobach In Farmers Branch, TX

July 15, 2010 10:57 am ET

Kris Kobach, Republican candidate for Kansas Secretary of State and active anti-immigrant lawyer, has helped craft legislation for the local government in Farmers Branch, Texas to put rental restrictions on illegal immigrants. His legislation has twice been judged unconstitutional and has thus far cost $4 million in legal fees, $100,000 of which have been pocketed by Kobach.

Farmers Branch, TX

Farmers Branch Is A City Of About 27,000. According to the U.S. Census Bureau: "The 2009 population estimate for Farmers Branch city, Texas is 26,742." [U.S. Census Bureau, accessed 7/1/10, emphasis original]

Kobach & Farmers Branch Ordinances

Ordinance 2892

2006: Farmers Branch City Council Adopted Ordinance 2892, Requiring That Landlords Verify The Citizenship Status Of Their Renters. According to the Dallas Morning News: "Farmers Branch on Monday adopted strict measures against illegal immigrants, requiring apartment renters to provide proof of citizenship or residency and making English the city's official language. The City Council also unanimously agreed to let police apply to participate in a federal program that would enable them to check the residency status of suspects in custody and initiate deportation proceedings in certain cases...Under the rental restrictions, apartment owners and managers would be required to obtain papers showing citizenship or eligible immigration status from each member of a family planning to live there." [Dallas Morning News, 11/14/06]

2007: Farmers Branch City Council Repealed Ordinance 2892 And Put A Similarly Worded Ordinance To A City-Wide Vote. According to the Dallas Morning News, on January 22, 2007, "the [Farmers Branch] City Council repeal[ed] Ordinance 2892 and adopt[ed] Ordinance 2903, which largely mirrors the first one, with concessions for mixed-status families and other minor changes. The council made the wording of Ordinance 2903 available to the public the weekend before the council meeting and deliberated it in public before adopting it. It also called for a citywide election." [Dallas Morning News, 8/19/07]

Ordinance 2903

2007: Farmers Branch Voters Adopted Ordinance 2903, Requiring That Apartment Owners Verify The Citizenship Status Of Their Renters. According to the Dallas Morning News: "Farmers Branch voters' overwhelming embrace of a law to drive out illegal immigrants - which backers celebrated Saturday as 'nothing but positive' - may lead to similar measures across North Texas and the nation, analysts say...Ordinance 2903 would require apartment management to obtain proof of citizenship or legal immigration status before entering into or renewing leases or rental agreements." [Dallas Morning News, 5/13/07]

  • Kobach Helped Draft Ordinance 2903. According to the Dallas Morning News: "The ordinance is modeled largely after one adopted by Hazleton, Pa., the first city to adopt a rental ban on illegal immigrants...'You have cities all across the country responding to constituent demands,' said Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He also is a constitutional law and immigration expert who defended Hazleton in court and helped Farmers Branch craft the ordinance that went to voters." [Dallas Morning News, 5/13/07]

Kobach: "A Referendum Is Essentially A Perfect Public Opinion Survey Because You're Questioning The Entire Electorate." According to the Dallas Morning News, Kobach stated: "These ordinances have proven very popular among city councils...This shows the city councils are accurately responding to public opinion. ... A referendum is essentially a perfect public opinion survey because you're questioning the entire electorate." [Dallas Morning News, 5/13/07]

Only 43 Percent Of The Electorate Voted On The Referendum For Ordinance 2903. According to the Dallas Morning News: "In the end, about 43 percent of 14,060 registered voters turned out and approved the referendum by a more than 2-to-1 margin." [Dallas Morning News, 5/13/07, emphasis added]

2008: Ordinance 2903 Declared Unconstitutional By Federal Judge. According to the Dallas Morning News: "A federal judge on Wednesday struck down a Farmers Branch ordinance designed to block apartment rentals to most illegal immigrants... Judge Lindsay issued his permanent injunction barring implementation of...Ordinance 2903, a little more than a year after Farmers Branch voters approved it 2-to-1." [Dallas Morning News, 5/29/08]

Federal Judge: Farmers Branch Unconstitutionally "Created Its Own Classification Scheme For Determining Which Noncitizens Could Rent Apartments." According to the Dallas Morning News, Judge Lindsay "wrote that only the federal government may determine whether someone is in the country legally. And he said the city, rather than deferring to the federal government's determination of immigration status, had created its own classification scheme for determining which noncitizens could rent apartments. 'Because Farmers Branch has attempted to regulate immigration differently from the federal government, the ordinance is preempted by the supremacy clause' of the Constitution, Judge Lindsay said." [Dallas Morning News, 5/29/08]

Ordinance 2952

2008: Farmers Branch Adopted Ordinance 2952, Requiring That All Renters Obtain Occupancy Licenses Verifying Their Citizenship Status. According to the Dallas Morning News, the Farmers Branch "City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 2952, which would require all renters to pay a $5 fee and claim U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status to obtain an occupancy license from the city." [Dallas Morning News, 1/23/08]

  • Kobach Helped Draft Ordinance 2952. According to the Dallas Morning News: "Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who has represented in court other cities that have tried to pass rental restrictions on illegal immigrants, helped draft the new ordinance. He said Ordinance 2952 differs from [the 2006 ordinance] in that the original sought to have landlords review documentation to determine whether someone was probably here legally." [Dallas Morning News, 1/23/08]

2010: Ordinance 2952 Declared Unconstitutional By Federal Judge. According to the Dallas Morning News: "For the second time, a federal judge has declared unconstitutional a Farmers Branch ordinance banning illegal immigrants from renting in the city. U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle of Dallas ruled Wednesday that the ordinance was an attempt to enforce U.S. immigration laws - something the judge said only the federal government can do. The judge also issued a permanent injunction to stop Farmers Branch from enforcing Ordinance 2952." [Dallas Morning News, 4/25/10]

  • Kobach Said Ruling Was Expected But Still Hopes To Appeal It. According to the Dallas Morning News: "Kris Kobach, an attorney for the city of Farmers Branch and a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School, said the judge's ruling was expected. 'We are cautiously optimistically [sic] that the Farmers Branch ordinance will be upheld on appeal,' Kobach said." [Dallas Morning News, 4/25/10]

Cost To Farmers Branch: $4 Million

Farmers Branch Mayor Said That Kobach Was Helping City "On A Pro Bono Basis." According to the Sand Mountain Reporter, former Farmers Branch city council member Carol Dingman stated: "Our mayor said [Kobach] was an expert in immigration law who would help the city on a pro bono basis." [Sand Mountain Reporter, 4/3/10]

Farmers Branch Councilmember: Kobach Was Paid $100,000 Of A $4 Million Legal Bill.  A reporter from the Albertville, AL paper the Sand Mountain Reporter was sent an email from a former Farmers Branch, TX city council member.  The councilmember, Carol Dingman, wrote:

I live in Farmers Branch, Texas. As a former city council person, I have closely followed our city's anti-immigration fight since the beginning.

I have researched Kris Kobach, who was mentioned the first time this issue came up. Our mayor said he was an expert in immigration law who would help the city on a pro bono basis. I have requested copies of all the legal bills the city has accrued since the start of litigation in 2007. We will have paid almost $4 million in legal fees at the end of this fiscal year (Sept 30, 2010).

Mr. Kobach was paid $100,000 of that. So much for pro bono. Kobach is closely connected with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), whose agenda is to use cities and states to test out their immigration legislation to see if it is constitutional.

Both of our city's ordinances were written by Kobach and both were ruled unconstitutional. I believe our city's taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for the benefit of a national organization that is never mentioned in any discussion of the issue.

... What is really frustrating...is that this fight has really changed the atmosphere of our town. We've always had a small-town feel and this issue has destroyed it. It has ruined our reputation. I've never seen such hateful rhetoric. We are now known worldwide as a racist city and it has effected our economic development. I'm embarrassed to say I'm from Farmers Branch. [Sand Mountain Reporter, 4/3/10, parenthesis original]

Kobach Was Paid To Draft Ordinances For Farmers Branch. According to the Dallas Morning News: "As early as October 2006, Kobach was discussing legal points related to the renters ordinance in Farmers Branch. Later invoices detail the payment to Kobach on such items as the 'draft ordinance' by the Strasburger & Price legal firm working for the city of Farmers Branch. And the legal affiliate's general counsel has sat in on two depositions." [Dallas Morning News, 7/6/10, via Lexis Nexis]

Farmers Branch Created Legal Defense Fund To Help Pay For Legal Fees. According to the Farmers Branch Legal Defense Fund website: "Because of current lawsuits, we have set up a Farmers Branch Legal Defense Fund to which you can contribute and help us win the fight against illegal immigration.  All monies donated will be used for legal fees incurred because of these lawsuits." [Farmers Branch Legal Defense Fund, accessed 6/30/10]

  • The Farmers Branch Legal Defense Fund Has Only Raised $44,076. According to the City of Farmers Branch website, as of June 29, 2010, the Farmers Branch Legal Defense Fund has raised $44,076. [City of Farmers Branch, accessed 7/1/10]