Federal judge strikes down Pennsylvania town's anti-illegal immigrant laws

A model law for local governments around the country, up in smoke thanks to a Clinton appointee.

A federal judge on Thursday struck down the city of Hazleton’s tough crackdown on illegal immigrants, ruling unconstitutional a law that has been emulated by towns and cities around the nation.

The Illegal Immigration Relief Act sought to impose fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs. Another measure would have required tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit.

It was pushed by Hazleton’s Republican mayor last summer after two illegal immigrants were charged in a fatal shooting…

More than 90 communities across the U.S., frustrated by the Congressional impasse on dealing with illegal immigrants, have considered or approved measures similar to Hazleton’s. U.S. District Judge James Munley’s ruling does not affect those measures.

The behemoth, 206-page opinion is here. I’m going to flip through it even though I can guess what the oh so ironic reasoning was: preemption, a doctrine stemming from the Supremacy Clause which holds that certain subjects are the exclusive domain of the federal government and beyond the purview of the states to legislate, federalism concerns notwithstanding. Which, in the case of immigration, would mean that state governments that are willing and able to do something must stand by and defer to a federal government that’s willing and able to do nothing. The plaintiffs made equal protection and due process claims too, though; I can’t wait to see how far those extend to non-citizens. Pretty far, at least, in the case of EP.

Update: The illegals won on the preemption and due process claims but lost on equal protection because, interestingly, the court found they couldn’t prove a discriminatory purpose. The DP claim should be easy but expensive to cure by giving them hearings or notice. The question on appeal will be whether the state can do that itself or whether, per the preemption reasoning, only a federal immigration judge can do so.

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