For nearly eight years, we have been fighting on behalf of four families who were eventually forced to leave their homes in a Fairfax County manufactured home park because one spouse could not prove lawful immigration presence and because their landlord charged these families higher rents. Twice during this fight, we appealed negative federal district court decisions, and earlier this week, we received an important victory from the Fourth Circuit. The case is de Reyes v. Waples Mobile Home Park, and the decision can be found here.
Our appeal involved whether the defendants could show a “business necessity” for their policy of denying residents the ability to live in the park due to immigration status. The defendants had argued that they would be at risk of breaking a federal anti-harboring statute by allowing them to reside in their park, but the Court of Appeals firmly rejected that argument, finding that the statute did not apply in these circumstances. Simply renting does not constitute illegal “harboring” – which, the opinion notes, “makes good sense:”
The opinion also notes that the defendants did not act like a party worried about harboring: instead of evicting immigrant tenants who were unable to meet the proof of lawful immigration presence requirement, the landlord simply raised their rent.
We partnered in this appeal with Zuckerman Spaeder, and we received support (through amicus briefs) from many organizations – including the U.S. Department of Justice. We are thrilled that this decision will serve as precedent in future cases that similarly challenge policies seeking to exclude and evict people from their housing on the basis of their race, national origin, or any other protected class.