CSM: "No Supreme Court review for local laws against harboring illegal immigrants"

by Joseph McKeown

The Supreme Court has decided not to hear two cases regarding local laws aimed at preventing undocumented immigrants from obtaining housing and jobs, instead letting stand the appeals court decisions blocking such laws. The two cases originated from local ordinances passed in Hazelton, PA and Farmers Branch, Texas. In striking down the Hazelton ordinances, which would have penalized anyone who rented or employed undocumented immigrants, the appeals court stated "both measures impermissibly intrude on the efforts of the federal government to decide how best to regulate immigration and illegal immigrants," which the Supreme Court is apparently agreeing with, though they did not comment.

Lehigh Valley's newspaper The Morning Call noted:

Both cases centered on the contentious question of how much authority local governments have to police immigration matters that have traditionally been handled by the federal government. The court's actions don't resolve the national uncertainty about local regulation of enforcement matters.

Still pending before the Supreme Court is a request for an appeal by property owners and immigrant rights groups in Nebraska, where the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the city of Freemont's law penalizing landlords who rent to undocumented immigrants.

Congressman Lou Barletta, Hazelton's mayor when the ordinances were passed, said there needs to be national legislation specifying how local governments can enforce immigration law:

"Simply put, if Hazleton were in Nebraska instead of Pennsylvania, the city would be able to enforce its law...But for the unfortunate fact of geography, the law of the land in the Midwest is deemed unconstitutional in Pennsylvania."

Meanwhile the city of Freemont, Nebraska was reportedly set to enact their law this month.