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Judicial Watch • Court Upholds Missouri Town’s Immigration Law

Court Upholds Missouri Town’s Immigration Law

Court Upholds Missouri Town’s Immigration Law

JUNE 09, 2009

A Missouri town’s law prohibiting hiring undocumented aliens has been upheld by a federal appellate court, marking the second time in less than a year that a local measure designed to curb illegal immigration triumphs in federal court.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Valley Park ordinance that prohibits businesses and residents from hiring illegal immigrants. Those applying for a business license must sign an affidavit stating that they do not knowingly employ unlawful workers. 

Legislators in Valley Park, a working class St. Louis suburb of about 6,500 residents, have engaged in a costly legal battle to defend the law since passing it in 2006. So far the town has spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to defend the measure, which was initially struck down by a St. Louis County judge. 

The city subsequently won an appeal. In its unanimous decision this week, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals essentially affirmed the lower court’s ruling in favor of Valley Park. The original ordinance included a ban on renting to illegal immigrants but the city omitted that portion after its first court defeat.

Less than a year ago a federal appellate court on the west coast, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, upheld Arizona’s landmark law prohibiting hiring illegal immigrants. The measure, which severely punishes businesses caught hiring illegal immigrants, had been previously upheld by a federal judge in Phoenix who rejected the argument that it unconstitutionally infringes on federal immigration powers.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering a case involving a similar immigration ordinance in Hazleton Pennsylvania. That law, which penalizes landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and businesses that hire them, was ruled unconstitutional in 2007 by a federal judge that said it violates the rights of every person in the United States, whether legal resident or not. 

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