Farmers Branch repeals law making English official language

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (AP) — Officials in a Dallas suburb have repealed a controversial, decade-old ordinance that made English the city’s official language.

The Farmers Branch City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to repeal the 2006 English-only resolution. The resolution had declared that all city business must be conducted in English. It also prohibited official translations for city documents, meetings, programs and publications unless required by state or federal law.

Mayor Robert Dye said the repeal will help the city move beyond its controversial past and be able to focus on development and growth.

“We want to show not only to our community but to other communities outside Farmers Branch that it’s a new day,” he said. “We’ve learned, and we are now focused on moving forward and planning for the future.”

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The council approved another ordinance around the same time as the English-only resolution that required home renters to provide proof of citizenship or residency. It also threatened to fine or revoke renter’s licenses for landlords who leased property to immigrants illegally living in the U.S.

After a seven-year legal fight, a federal court ruled the rental ban unconstitutional. The fight cost Farmers Branch about $6.6 million.

“I remember protests here where they would say, ‘Go back to Mexico,'” said Carlos Quintanilla, an immigration and civil rights activist who partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge the rental ban in court.

Quintanilla said repealing the English-only ordinance this week is “part of a long healing process.”