July 19, 2008

Carrollton City Council to appoint panel on illegal immigration

Carrollton City Council to appoint panel on illegal immigration

12:59 AM CDT on Saturday, July 19, 2008
By BRANDON FORMBY / The Dallas Morning News

The Carrollton City Council is expected to appoint a residents' task force to develop possible approaches to illegal immigration.

The idea for such a group came late Friday during a council retreat after council members failed to reach a consensus on proposed illegal immigration resolutions.

Mayor Ron Branson and council member Terry Simons had proposed a resolution affirming English as the city's official language, arguing that it would deter illegal immigrants.

But council members Tim Hayden and Herb Weidinger disagreed.

Mr. Hayden said such a resolution would do little more than generate headlines.

"I'm trying to follow the logic, but I'm getting lost," he said.

Mr. Branson said that if a resolution kept one illegal immigrant out of Carrollton, "it would be worth it."

He has said that one of his top priorities as mayor will be to work to rid the city of illegal immigrants, some of whom he said moved to Carrollton after neighboring Farmers Branch made them unwelcome with its efforts to prevent them from renting property.

Carrollton already participates in the Criminal Alien Program, which has jailers contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers when they think a detainee is in the U.S. illegally. And in April, the city was accepted into a federal program that trains local police to act as immigration officers.

Mr. Branson resigned from the City Council in 2006 for health reasons but unseated the incumbent mayor in May.

Farmers Branch made English the city's official language in 2006. The Oak Point City Council adopted a resolution supporting the use of English as the official language of documents in this small Denton County town last summer.

Council member John Mahalik said he did not want Carrollton to be lumped together with cities such as Farmers Branch that have drawn widespread attention for their approaches to illegal immigration. But he also said he would support a resolution making English Carrollton's official language.

Council member Pat Malone raised the question of whether a resolution would have any significant impact. She also wondered whether it would send a message to residents that the council cares about the problem of illegal immigration.

The council also failed to reach a consensus on a proposed resolution supporting Farmers Branch's approach to illegal immigration, which has included ordinances that have been blocked by or tied up in court.

Council member Matthew Marchant did not voice support or opposition on the resolutions. Council member Larry Williams was not at the retreat Friday.

The council is likely to vote on the structure and membership of the task force in September.


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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?