Wayland Cooley, the Madison County, Alabama tax assessor, refused to grant homestead tax exemptions to Julio and Carmen Telleria because they did not speak English.
He said that they had to recite an oral oath in English, but the Center's staff learned that the oath was only applied to foreign-born property owners and only in Madison County.
The Center also learned that Cooley, the Tax Assessor, routinely used racial slurs to describe immigrants and minorities and claimed that "foreigners" were "coming over here and taking what's ours." Cooley also required non-English speaking immigrant homeowners to pay in taxes twice what English-speaking homeowners paid.
The Center sued Cooley over his discriminatory "English Only" policy. Under the terms of a settlement, the Center secured homestead exemptions and reimbursements for the Tellerias and another immigrant homeowner, a sixty-three year old Korean-born widow named Byong-Rye Ahn.
Cooley was also required to stop his discriminatory policy and make other changes in the way he treated minorities and immigrants.
Legal Services Corporation of Alabama (http://www.alabamalegalservices.org)
William Z. Messer