HAZLETON, Pa. (AP) – The tiny northeastern Pennsylvania city aiming to crack down on immigrants who are in the country illegally lost another round Friday in its court battle to implement restrictions that inspired similar measures across the country.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia reaffirmed its 2010 decision that Hazleton’s ordinances are pre-empted by federal immigration law.
Approved in 2006, the never-enforced ordinances would deny permits to businesses that hire people in the country illegally and fine landlords who rent to them.
They were struck down by a federal district court following a two-week trial in 2007, and the appeals court upheld that ruling in 2010.
The case was sent back to the appeals court for review in 2012 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on two Arizona immigration laws. In its ruling Friday, the appeals court made clear that it stood by its earlier decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which joined other civil-rights groups in challenging the ordinances, said the ruling should settle the question of the rules’ legality once and for all.
“It is a shame that so much of the city government’s time and resources have been wasted on these fundamentally flawed laws, and we hope that the city will finally accept the courts’ judgment and move on,” said Omar Jadwat, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York.
Hazleton Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi said he was disappointed by the ruling and vowed that city officials will continue to solicit private donations to continue the court fight. Proponents have spent nearly $500,000 on litigation using donations from thousands of individual donors, but have since received a $50,000 contribution that has sustained them recently, he said.
“I believe that this should be done,” Yannuzzi said.
The crackdown was originally advocated by former Mayor Lou Barletta after two such immigrants were charged in a fatal shooting. The national attention the measures attracted helped catapult Barletta into Congress. He argued that illegal immigration brought drugs, crime and gangs to the city and overwhelmed police, schools and hospitals.
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