DECEMBER 03, 2007
Although a series of local measures to curb illegal immigration have been legally defeated nationwide, a breakthrough has occurred with crucial federal court victories in two separate states recently.
In an indicator that perhaps the tide is turning, a few days ago a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against a suburban Virginia county’s effort to crack down on illegal immigrants with some of the toughest measures in the country.
Officials in Prince William County, with a population of nearly 300,000, adopted a resolution in July to deny taxpayer-funded county services to illegal immigrants and require police to check the immigration status of all detained suspects. As has been the case nationwide, the measures were legally challenged by illegal immigrant advocates.
In this case, lawyers representing the illegal immigrants claimed in a lawsuit that the Prince William County measures were discriminatory against all Hispanics and that they could not be implemented because immigration enforcement is a federal concern. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing because they could not show they had suffered as a result of the policies.
In late October a separate judge dismissed a similar lawsuit in Oklahoma that alleged a new state law, limiting taxpayer-funded services to illegal immigrants, discriminated against all immigrants. Appropriately called the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, the measure denies illegal immigrants state identification cards and requires all Oklahoma government agencies to verify immigrants’ legal status before conferring benefits.
These two important court victories follow a series of losses for various municipalities seeking to curb the devastating effect that illegal immigrants are having on their budgets. Similar ordinances have been defeated in Escondido California and Hazleton Pennsylvania and others—in Valley Park Missouri, Riverside New Jersey and Farmers Branch Texas–are still battling lawsuits. In fact, cities across the nation have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the legal challenges aimed at their laws.
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