Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Hazleton, Pennsylvania’s Immigration Enforcement Laws

Today, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Hazleton, Pennsylvania may not enforce its immigration enforcement laws, which sought to deny business permits to companies who hire undocumented immigrants, fine landlords who rent to the undocumented and require prospective tenants to register with City Hall. The laws, which were never enforced, were previously struck down by a federal judge in 2007 and were again found to conflict with the federal government’s “exclusive power to regulate immigration.”

According to Chief Judge Theodor McKee:

It is … not our job to sit in judgment of whether state and local frustration about federal immigration policy is warranted. We are, however, required to intervene when states and localities directly undermine the federal objectives embodied in statutes enacted by Congress.

Today’s ruling will likely end Hazleton’s four-year battle with immigration enforcement legislation and may serve as a cautionary warning to other states currently considering similar measures. The court’s ruling also follows a district judge’s decision to enjoin key provisions of Arizona’s controversial enforcement law, SB1070.

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