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Third Circuit reaffirms ban on Pennsylvania city immigration laws

The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] has reaffirmed [opinion, PDF] that two anti-illegal immigration laws enacted in 2006 by Hazleton, Pennsylvania, are preempted by federal immigration law. On Friday the court permanently enjoined Hazleton's enforcement of the Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance (IIRAO) [Ord. 2006-18, PDF] and the Rental Registration Ordinance (RO) [Ord. 2006-13, PDF], which denied permits to business that employ undocumented immigrants and fined landlords who extended housing to them, respectively. The court said the employment provisions "stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment and the execution" of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986's (IRCA) objectives, and the housing provisions undermine the "comprehensive procedures under which federal officials determine whether an alien may remain in this country," creating foreign policy and humanitarian concerns. The IIRAO attempted to make it unlawful to "knowingly recruit, hire for employment, or continue to employ, or to permit, dispatch, or instruct" any person without work authorization in Hazleton and required documented immigration status as condition precedent to entering into a rental lease. The RO required prospective renters to obtain an occupancy permit which required "proper identification showing proof of legal citizenship and/or residency."

The Third Circuit began reconsidering the laws [JURIST report] in August after the US Supreme Court [official website] ordered it to reexamine the case [JURIST report]. A number of states have enacted immigration laws [JURIST backgrounder], including South Carolina and Georgia. Last week the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] affirmed a lower court's decision to block components of South Carolina's [JURIST report] immigration law [SB 20 text]. Earlier this month a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit seeking to scrap a key part of Georgia's sweeping anti-illegal immigration law. The lawsuit challenged a 2011 statute that gave police officers to the option to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects. The law is permitted.

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