City immigration law voided

U.S. appeals court nixes city’s immigration ordinance
By Kurt Kipp,
Oregon Association of Nurseries

Can cities make up their own rules on immigration? According to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the answer is no. “”It is … not our job to sit in judgment of whether state and local frustration about federal immigration policy is warranted,” Chief Judge Theodore McKee wrote in the majority opinion. “We are, however, required to intervene when states and localities directly undermine the federal objectives embodied in statutes enacted by Congress.”

The court struck down a local ordinance passed by the city of Hazelton, Pa., population about 30,000. The rule would have fined landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, and it also would have fined employers who hire illegal immigrants. Additionally the law would have required all renters to obtain a renter’s permit from the local city hall, and pay a fee. The full court decision can be read here (PDF).

One of the main backers of the law is Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta, who is currently running for Congress. He has vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The news is significant to nurseries, who favor comprehensive reform at the federal level rather than a patchwork, “D.I.Y” approach by individual jurisdictions.

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