News Feature | July 17, 2014

Undocumented Immigrants Denied Water Service In Dallas, NC

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Residents of Dallas, NC, are advocating for water utilities to provide service to undocumented immigrants. 

"Latino families in a Dallas mobile home park want change. Several of the families are not legally documented residents, meaning town policy effectively denies them running water," the Gaston Gazette reported.

The town requires that residents present identification issued by the U.S. government in order to get water service. Some families lack ID, despite owning homes. 

One woman has decided to bring the issue to court.

"Lorena Navarro filed the suit on April 24, after being denied water service to her trailer in Oak Grove Park. She and her young son lived without water for bathing, drinking, personal hygiene and other daily needs for two years," the report said, citing the lawsuit.

Navarro has been confronted with strong opposition as she tries to pursue water service. "Navarro went twice to try to have water turned on at the home she owns, but was denied both times. On the second try, she was arrested," the report said. 

The lawsuit addresses what she sees as phony grounds for arrest. 

"According to court documents, Navarro presented what was believed to be a fake ID. Navarro was arrested, jailed for 24 hours and faced two charges of identity theft and obtaining property by false pretense. The lawsuit claims the arrest was groundless and that the town and officer knew that," the report said.

The issue is hardly new. Back in 2012, the Georgia legislature considered making such a policy into law. 

"A bill before the Georgia Legislature could prevent illegal immigrants from being able to get a marriage license or access to water and sewage services in the state," the Associated Press reported at the time. 

Utilities have sometimes found themselves in the crossfire of the heated battle over immigration policy. 

"At least one utility company in Alabama posted a sign informing its customers that a section of Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law prohibits them from providing water service to undocumented immigrants," ThinkProgress reported back in 2011. 

"According to the sign at Allgood Water Works in Blount County, Alabama, customers must have 'an Alabama driver’s license or an Alabama picture ID card on file' by the date that the immigration law went into effect; otherwise, they risked losing their water service," the report said.

For more policy news, check out Water Online's Regulations & Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "Green Wall and Faucet," A is for Angie © 2006, used under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license:

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