Third Circuit reconsiders Hazleton anti-illegal immigration ordinances

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] on Wednesday again heard arguments on two anti-illegal immigrant laws enacted in 2006 by the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance [Ord. 2006-18, PDF] and Rental Registration Ordinance [Ord. 2006-13, PDF] would deny permits to businesses that employ illegal immigrants and fine landlords who extend housing to them, respectively. Last August the Third Circuit vacated its 2010 decision that had rejected the laws [JURIST reports] as unconstitutional, based on Supreme Court [official website] rulings in 2011 and 2012 [JURIST reports] on similar anti-immigration laws enacted by the state of Arizona. For the Third Circuit reconsideration Hazleton argued that the Supreme Court's Arizona decisions do not prevent municipalities from passing laws that support or mirror federal policies [Philadelphia Inquirer report]. The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy group], however, argued [press release] that the two Supreme Court cases hold that federal immigration preemption [Cornell LII backgrounder] completely negates state and local immigration laws, confirming the original 2007 decision by the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania [official website] that struck down [JURIST report] the Hazleton ordinances in first place.

Illegal immigration has become the focus of much legislative and judicial activity recently. Earlier this month the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a complaint [text, PDF] in the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama [official website] challenging [JURIST report] an Alabama law [HB 56 text] designed to restrict the actions of illegal immigrants. In addition to authorizing detention of individuals on reasonable suspicion they are illegal immigrants, the law provides harsh restrictions on employment for illegal immigrants. Businesses cited multiple times for hiring undocumented workers could lose their business licenses. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants are prohibited from applying for a job, and anyone transporting or harboring undocumented immigrants will be punished by a fine or jail time. The DOJ contended that various provisions of the Alabama immigration legislation are preempted by federal law and violate the Supremacy Clause [text] of the Constitution.

 

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