You Cannot Live Here — Restrictive Housing Ordinances as the New Jim Crow

23 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2013

Date Written: June 1, 2013


After the failure of comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 and 2007, hundreds of municipalities considered and enacted ordinances to allegedly combat “illegal immigration.” In reviewing restrictive housing ordinances in three different residential areas — Hazleton, PA, Valley Park, MO, and Farmers Branch, TX — a number of key findings and recommendations emerged:

• The proliferation of restrictive housing ordinances in predominantly white residential areas was motivated by racial animus towards Latinos, with immigration status serving as a proxy for race;

• Efforts to restrict and control the movement of Latino immigrants into predominantly white neighborhoods are in accordance with long and established patterns of enacting racial boundaries such as racial zoning laws and sundown towns;

• While these restrictive housing ordinances have largely fallen out of favor, immigrant rights advocates contend that states and municipalities continue to reinforce residential segregation in less sinister forms;

• Challenges posed by an influx of Latinos will continue to fuel uneven patterns of residential segregation as some jurisdictions welcome immigrant integration while others impose restrictions;

• In order to combat uneven residential segregation patterns, Congress cannot sit idly as state and municipal bodies try to enact new barriers for immigrants.

Keywords: immigration, restrictive housing ordinances, race and urban redevelopment, gentrification, Latinos, barrios

Suggested Citation

Lal, Prerna P, You Cannot Live Here — Restrictive Housing Ordinances as the New Jim Crow (June 1, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Prerna P Lal (Contact Author)

Lal Legal, APLC ( email )

2001 Addison Street
Suite 300
Berkeley, CA 94704


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