Hispanic Leaders Planning One-Day Boycott of Farmers Branch to Protest Its Refusal to Give Up on Immigrant Rental Ban
Hispanics have boycotted Farmers Branch before. In 2006, as the city was first considering a crackdown on illegal immigrants, including an instantaneously infamous rental ban, immigrant rights activists called for supporters to shop and conduct business elsewhere.
It didn't work. Tim O'Hare, the city councilman who proposed the crackdown to "clean up Farmers Branch" as he put it to The Dallas Morning News at the time, responded by inviting supporters of the rental ban in neighboring cities to come spend their money in the town of almost 30,000. The rental ban passed.
Legal protests have been more successful. Three times now -- once in federal district court and twice in appeals court -- judges have declared the measure unconstitutional. Opponents also won at the ballot box, recently ushering in a more immigrant-friendly City Council and electing Ana Reyes as its first Hispanic member.
Farmers Branch, however, has refused to give up of completely purging itself of unauthorized immigrants while thoroughly alienating its Hispanic residents, who now comprise 45 percent of the population. The City Council voted last week to take its $6 million rental ban fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In response, Hispanic leaders are turning back to the boycott. "It's time for the community to rise and speak up and take action, because if no one does, there's not going to be a change," says local activist Victor Quezada.
This boycott is both more expansive and more limited than the one seven years ago. Organizers are urging residents to keep their kids home from school, to skip work and to avoid spending money at local businesses, but only on September 13. They're hoping that will be enough to demonstrate the Hispanic community's growing clout.
Farmers Branch Mayor Bill Glancy has met with activists to discuss the issue and has limited his remarks to expressing doubt in the efficacy of a boycott.
"It's America. It's a free country," he told The Dallas Morning News. "They can do what they like. I don't know that it's going to benefit them or that it's going to benefit the Hispanic community."
To that, Quezada offers a metaphor introduced by a school teacher who spoke at a recent community meeting. Farmers Branch is a pregnant woman ready to give birth to a new, more tolerant and diverse version of herself.
"The water broke in Farmers Branch a long time ago, and it's time for that child to be born," he says.