A U.S. District Court Judge in Pennsylvania has struck down a City of Hazleton ordinance targeting illegal immigrants:
HAZLETON, Pa. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday struck down Hazleton’s tough anti-illegal immigration law, ruling unconstitutional a measure that has been copied around the country.
The city’s 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.
In a 206-page opinion, Munley said the act was pre-empted by federal law and would violate due process rights.
”Whatever frustrations … the city of Hazleton may feel about the current state of federal immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme,” Munley wrote.
”Even if federal law did not conflict with Hazleton’s measures, the city could not enact an ordinance that violates rights the Constitution guarantees to every person in the United States, whether legal resident or not,” he added.
On some level, this result is, as James Joyner called it, a no-brainer. The U.S. Constitution clearly gives Congress exclusive control over immigration issues and the Constitution also makes clear that Federal Law is supreme over state or local laws in areas where the Federal Government has jurisdiction.
To put it in simple terms, Hazleton simply doesn’t have the jurisdiction or the authority to do what they tried to do here.
This case will no doubt be appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and, quite possibly, the Supreme Court, so this isn’t over yet, but I think that Judge Munley got it right.