California city approves law barring illegal immigrants from renting

[JURIST] Lawmakers in the southern California city of Escondido [official website] approved an ordinance [Union-Tribune report] Wednesday that will prohibit landlords from renting their properties to illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive]. The measure requires landlords to submit documentation to city authorities to prove their tenants' immigration status. If found in violation, landlords could face suspension of their business licenses and fines. Opponents called the new ordinance racist and said immigration enforcement should be handled by the federal government, not local governments. The ordinance takes effect Nov. 18, but opponents said they plan to challenge the law in court before city officials begin enforcement.

Escondido's ordinance follows passage of similar local immigration enforcement laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The City Council of Hazleton, Pennsylvania [official website] gave tentative approval to revisions [JURIST report] to its controversial Illegal Immigration Relief Act [text, PDF] in September in an attempt to survive legal challenges. The Hazleton law, as original passed, punishes landlords and employers that lease property to or employ illegal immigrants, with or without knowledge of their illegal status, but the revisions would shift burdens originally placed on businesses, making it the city's responsibility to determine immigration statuses. The Council will vote Tuesday on whether to give the revised law final approval. Reuters has more. The San Diego Union-Tribune has local coverage.

 

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