Texas attorney fights illegal immigration rules

DALLAS (AP) - Bill Brewer handles disputes for multimillion-dollar companies at the firm he co-founded more than two decades ago. When he's not, he and other attorneys at the Dallas firm of Bickel & Brewer take on civil rights and commercial cases for clients who might not be able to pay at all.

The firm opened a Bickel & Brewer Storefront pro-bono satellite office in 1995 in predominantly black South Dallas. Since then, he's guided lawsuits that have won wheelchair athletes the right to compete in the New York City Marathon and helped a small Hispanic evangelical church nearly swindled out of its building.

The Long Island native also represents Farmers Branch landlords and residents fighting the Dallas suburb's efforts to prevent illegal immigrants from renting apartments and houses. Brewer has filed numerous state and federal lawsuits contending that the city's all-white leadership is trying to drive out the city's growing Latino population.

Brewer's friend and longtime Dallas activist Adelfa Callejo (ah-DEHL'-fah kah-YAY'-hoh) asked him to get involved after the Farmers Branch City Council unanimously passed a November 2006 ordinance. The ordinance would require landlords to check the immigration status of renters.

Brewer's clients prevailed in court.

Now, Brewer's clients are challenging a new ordinance in which Farmers Branch would ask the federal government for a potential renter's immigration status before approving a rental license.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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