MARCH 01, 2007
A Missouri city that has already spent thousands of taxpayer dollars to uphold challenged ordinances created to curb illegal immigration is in court again this week arguing the validity of its new laws.
Officials in Valley Park, a St. Louis suburb, unanimously passed laws last July to rid their little city of about 6,500 residents of the crime, school overcrowding and destruction of neighborhoods they attribute to illegal immigrants.
The ordinance makes it illegal for landlords to rent to illegal immigrants, fines businesses that hire them and makes English the municipality’s official language. A St. Louis County Circuit judge blocked enforcement of the law, however, and determined city officials revised and passed them again this month.
So this week, the same judge (Barbara Wallace) will hear oral arguments on yet another challenge to the revised measures that in essence have already been unanimously passed by Valley Park lawmakers. When Judge Wallace blocked the law last September, she said there were “big holes” in the ordinance. She is expected to rule in the next few days on whether the revised version violates state or federal constitutional protections.
It is a violation of federal law to enter the country and subsequently live in it illegally. The federal government’s refusal to enforce that law is precisely why more than 100 municipalities in 27 states have considered or passed ordinances to help curb illegal immigration, which has become a costly crisis for cities around the nation.
Many of the laws have been legally challenged, however, and municipalities have spent quite a bit of public money fighting to uphold them. So far, Valley Park has spent about $75,000 in legal fees in an effort to uphold their law to keep illegal immigrants out.
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