Immigration Ignites Grand Prairie Mobile Home Park

Some residents angry over policy to check immigration status on prospective buyers

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    LONGVIEW, TX - JULY 24: Applications with photographs and fees from Mexican citizens sit on a table to be processed for a ?Matricula Consular? card at the Wesley-McCabe United Methodist Church July 24, 2004 in Longview, Texas. The identification card is issued to Mexican citizens living outside of Mexico to recognize legitimate Mexicans in the U.S. Mexican Consulate officials from Dallas, Texas established what they called a ?mobile consulate? in Longview to process applicants from 450 Mexican citizens. (Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)

    Angry owners faced off with board members Friday over the immigration policy at the San Grande Mobile home park in Grand Prairie.

    The property owners’ association board is demanding proof of legal residency from buyers who want to live at the park on Shady Grove Road near Belt Line.

    Immigration Status Checks Anger Some Residents

    [DFW] Immigration Status Checks Anger Some Residents
    The property owners of a Grand Prairie mobile home park are testing federal law by requiring an immigration check on anyone who lives there. (Published Friday, Sep 18, 2009)

    "It’s just not right," said property owner Ramona Bledsoe.  "They didn’t ask it from white people.  But they’re asking it from Latino people."

    Board Vice President Nola Wolfe denied the policy is enforced only for Latinos.

    "Everybody has to provide identification to show that they’re entitled to be in the United States," Wolfe said.

    Neighbors said two buyers who purchased trailers in the park are now being refused gas and water service from the board because they were not approved in advance for membership in the association.

    Padre Pedro Portillo with Inglesia Santa Maria de Guadalupe was at the park Friday as an advocate for one of those buyers.  "I don’t think it’s fair, because they did legally and properly buy the property through the title company," Portillo said.

    Board President Reta McVickers said prospective buyers are told about the policy in advance. "We tell them, don’t exchange any money, don’t sign any papers until the board approves you," she said.

    Other residents complain about finances at the park.  "That’s a black hole there," said property owner Dalton Ford out side the park office Friday.  "We can’t get in it. We aren’t allowed in there and we can’t go and ask questions. They won’t answer the door."

    Board members said complaints are unfounded and that their hard work has improved the park.  "Some of the people come in, they’re trying to create problems," McVickers said.

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Patricia Campbell in Fort Worth said that it would be illegal under federal housing law to discriminate based on race or national origin.

    "So asking these questions only of Latino buyers would be improper," said Campbell.

    However, Campbell said the Fair Housing Act does not apply to immigration status. So excluding people who are not in the country legally would be allowed as long as all potential buyers are questioned.

    Even so, some residents say they are working to remove the board members.