Texas Town Refuses to Pass Slew Of Anti-Immigrant Ordinances

Tomball, Texas says no to English-only ordinances and crackdowns on day laborers.

By Julianne Hing Sep 08, 2010

On Tuesday evening the Southern Texas town of Tomball voted down two anti-immigrant ordinances that would have made English the official language of the town and sought to bar undocumented immigrants from renting or owning property in the town. The town’s residents also fought back against what they saw as Tea Party infiltrators who were trying to close the city’s day laborer center down. The site will remain open.

The city council tabled another ordinance that would have demanded the city only award contracts to companies that hire employees who are legal residents of the town. City Councilman Derek Townsend said he proposed all three because he wanted Tomball to send a message that the small town of 10,209 was going to take a stand against the federal government’s inaction on immigration.

But the leaders of Tomball, Texas show that you don’t necessarily have to be an immigrant rights crusader to oppose anti-immigrant ordinances. You just need to be practical. The Houston Chronicle explains the city council’s reasoning:

Most council members agreed that making English the city’s official language was an unnecessary move that would not enhance Tomball’s image or interests. And most of the city’s elected officials appeared leery of the idea seeking to limit undocumented immigrants’ property rights, noting it could bring an avalanche of lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, which could cost the city millions.

"I’d sure hate to take our people down that route," said City Councilman Rick Brown. "It’s lawsuit after lawsuit."

Councilman Preston Dodson agreed, saying such a move could have "huge constitutionality issues."

Tomball apparently took note of the lengthy legal battles of Hazleton, Pennsylvania and Farmers Branch, Texas, which both that passed laws to try to choke the housing rights of undocumented immigrants and launched their towns into expensive legal proceedings to defend these laws. A federal court ruled the Farmers Branch ordinance as unconstitutional earlier this year.