AUGUST 16, 2006
Fed up with the enormous burden of illegal immigration, cities nationwide have created legislation in an effort to curb it and now they face costly litigation battles with so-called civil rights groups that are challenging the new laws in court.
Five municipalities have already passed ordinances to control illegal immigration and penalize those who abet it and dozens are in the process of creating such legislation. Many of the proposed laws are based on those created over the summer in Hazelton Pennsylvania, a former coal-mining town northwest of Philadelphia with a large illegal immigrant population.
Hazelton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act was designed by Mayor Louis Barletta after an illegal immigrant committed a brutal murder in May. Agreeing with the mayor’s sentiment that illegal immigrants were destroying the city, Hazelton’s City Council approved the law in July. It suspends the license of any business that employs, retains or aids illegal immigrants and imposes a hefty fine on landlords renting property to illegal immigrants. It also declares that all official city business be written in English.
Now various civil rights groups are suing Hazelton as well as Riverside California, seeking to block their laws by claiming that they violate the United States Constitution’s supremacy clause by attempting to regulate immigration, which is up to the federal government.
Leading the lawsuit bandwagon is the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and, of course, the American Civil Liberties Union which one well-known conservative journalist suggests should change its name to the EBLACLU for Everyone But Legal Americans Civil Liberties Union.
They claim that the ordinances discriminate against immigrants and the president of one of the group’s actually said that the were created as “a reaction to a crazy climate of get these people out of town.”
The argument that the local laws are unconstitutional may not hold up in court since a congressional report recently concluded that cities are entitled to use local licensing laws to regulate the employment of illegal immigrants, especially since the measures are consistent with federal objectives.
Regardless of who wins the legal battle, cities throughout the country, already burdened with the toll that illegal immigrants have taken on law enforcement, healthcare and education must spend lots of taxpayer dollars to defend the laws they were forced to create to compensate for the federal government’s shortfall.
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