Hazleton Penna immigrant law voided by judge

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RedGlitter
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Hazleton Penna immigrant law voided by judge

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By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press WriterThu Jul 26, 7:51 PM ET



A federal judge on Thursday struck down Hazleton's tough anti-illegal immigration law, ruling unconstitutional a measure that has been copied around the country.

The city's Illegal Immigration Relief Act sought to impose fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs. Another measure would have required tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit.

Based on testimony from a nine-day trial held in March, U.S. District Judge James Munley ruled that the act was pre-empted by federal law and would violate due process rights.

"The genius of our Constitution is that it provides rights even to those who evoke the least sympathy from the general public," Munley wrote in a 206-page opinion.

"Hazleton, in its zeal to control the presence of a group deemed undesirable, violated the rights of such people, as well as others within the community."

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta called the decision bizarre and said he intends to file an appeal.

"Sadly, today's decision sends the wrong message to elected officials in Washington and elsewhere," he told reporters outside City Hall. "We, the American people, want our cities secured, our borders protected and our citizenship respected. This battle is far from over."

Hazleton's act was copied by dozens of municipalities around the nation that believe the federal government hasn't done enough to stop illegal immigration. Munley's ruling does not affect those measures, although most of them had been put on hold pending the outcome in Hazleton, according to the plaintiffs' lawyers.

Barletta had pushed for the strict laws last summer after two illegal immigrants were charged in a fatal shooting. The Republican mayor argued that illegal immigrants brought drugs, crime and gangs to the city of more than 30,000, overwhelming police and schools.

Hispanic groups and illegal immigrants in Hazleton sued, denouncing the measures as racist and divisive.

"It is a bittersweet victory," Anna Arias, president of the Hazleton Area Latino Association, said Thursday. "It is sad in the sense that we should be spreading love and unity, and not hatred and division as this has created. This has divided the community."

Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which represented the plaintiffs, said other cities should take notice.

"This decision should be a blaring red stoplight for local officials thinking of copying Hazleton's misguided and unconstitutional law," Walczak said.

But the city's lawyer, Kris Kobach, denounced Munley as an activist judge who ignored Supreme Court precedent and existing federal law, which he said allows municipalities to address the "consequences of illegal immigration."

Kobach said he was confident the decision would be overturned on appeal.

"If the judge had written a tight, closely reasoned opinion that didn't venture too far out on a limb, that would be a hard case to appeal," he said. "But this judge has written an opinion that goes to extraordinary lengths to find faults with the city's ordinance, and this makes for a perfect appeal."

Hispanic immigrants began settling in Hazleton in large numbers several years ago, lured from New York, Philadelphia and other cities by cheap housing, low crime and the availability of work in nearby factories and farms.

The city, 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia, estimates its population increased by more than 10,000 between 2000 and 2006. Testimony during the trial put the number of illegal immigrants at between 1,500 and 3,400.

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spot
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Hazleton Penna immigrant law voided by judge

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The judge seems to have said that federal law had already set up the rules on how to decide who to eject from the country and when, and that the local ordinances overlapped that decision-making jurisdiction. The local body isn't allowed to second-guess the final outcome of the federal immigration court hearing. He quotes two Supreme Court Justices:As Supreme Court Justice Blackmun noted: “[T]he structure of the immigration statuses makes it impossible for the State to determine which aliens are entitled to residence, and which eventually will be deported.” Plyler, 457 U.S. at 236 (Blackmun, J., concurring).

Additionally, Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell stated: “Until an undocumented alien is ordered deported by the Federal Government, no State can be assured that the alien will not be found to have a federal permission to reside in the country.” Plyler, 457 at 241 n.6 (Powell, J., concurring).

Hazleton’s ordinances burden aliens more than federal law by prohibiting them from residing in the city although they may be permitted to remain in the United States. The ordinances are thus in conflict with federal law and pre-empted.There's another quote from the judge that goes to the heart of his argument:The ordinances also conflict with federal law in that they assume that the federal government seeks the removal of all undocumented aliens. As the Supreme Court has noted: "An illegal entrant might be granted federal permission to continue to reside in this country, or even to become a citizen."He lists a number of circumstances in which "federal government permits several categories of persons who may not be technically lawfully present in the United States to work and presumably live here."

It appears to be a question of jurisdiction, of whether there should be a series of unmatched hoops to jump through or just one.
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RedGlitter
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Hazleton Penna immigrant law voided by judge

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Spot quoted:

There's another quote from the judge that goes to the heart of his argument:The ordinances also conflict with federal law in that they assume that the federal government seeks the removal of all undocumented aliens. As the Supreme Court has noted: "An illegal entrant might be granted federal permission to continue to reside in this country, or even to become a citizen."He lists a number of circumstances in which "federal government permits several categories of persons who may not be technically lawfully present in the United States to work and presumably live here."



I find it confusing why the law conflicts. If they're illegal, they're illegal. It shouldn't be "they're illegal but it's okay as long as...." That makes no sense to me and this is why I don't think we'll ever see our borders sealed or illegal immigration taken seriously enough by our government. I'd like to know also what those circumstances are that excuse the illegals.
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Hazleton Penna immigrant law voided by judge

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RedGlitter;669105 wrote: I find it confusing why the law conflicts. If they're illegal, they're illegal. It shouldn't be "they're illegal but it's okay as long as...." That makes no sense to me and this is why I don't think we'll ever see our borders sealed or illegal immigration taken seriously enough by our government. I'd like to know also what those circumstances are that excuse the illegals.


I find it confusing that anyone in the US bothers with having a law at all. Tar and feather anyone you don't like and set them on fire, that's traditional.

You really want to know? I'll have to get rid of "illegal" and use three slightly more meaningful terms instead, because each of those categories has different rules. The one you call "illegal" is what the judge calls "undocumented aliens", I think. Generally, under federal law, aliens can be present in the country as:lawfully admitted non-immigrants, i.e., visitors, those in the country temporarily; andlawful immigrants, lawful permanent residents, referred to sometimes as “green card holders.”

Lawfully admitted for permanent residence status can be attained in various ways, including family or employment characteristics, the “green card lottery” or relief such as asylum.

A third category of aliens present in the country are “undocumented aliens” who lack lawful immigration status. These aliens may have overstayed their time in the United States or entered the country illegally. The number of these individuals is approximately twelve million. Hazleton’s use of the term “illegal alien” evidently is aimed at these individuals.So - which undocumented aliens can stay in the US, that's the next question:Even if an alien is deemed removable after removal proceedings, they may nonetheless be allowed to stay in the United States. For example, relief from removal may be obtained by spouses and other relatives of United States citizens, victims of domestic violence, and those seeking protection from persecution or torture under the Convention Against Torture. Additionally, the United States Attorney General "may cancel removal in the case of an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien - - - (1) has been an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence for not less than 5 years, (2) has resided in the United States continuously for 7 years after having been admitted in any status, and (3) has not been convicted of any aggravated felony."

Hence, the federal immigration rules and the decision whether an alien should be removed are very complex. More than resorting to the Basic Pilot Program or the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (“SAVE”) is necessary to determine if federal government seeks the removal of an individual from the United States.
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RedGlitter
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Hazleton Penna immigrant law voided by judge

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spot;669150 wrote: I find it confusing that anyone in the US bothers with having a law at all. Tar and feather anyone you don't like and set them on fire, that's traditional.



I'm beginning to agree after reading the info you posted. It seems illegals are unacceptable.....unless this or unless that or unless some other thing. No wonder people are confused.

You really want to know? I'll have to get rid of "illegal" and use three slightly more meaningful terms instead, because each of those categories has different rules. The one you call "illegal" is what the judge calls "undocumented aliens", I think. Generally, under federal law, aliens can be present in the country as:

lawfully admitted non-immigrants, i.e., visitors, those in the country temporarily; and

lawful immigrants, lawful permanent residents, referred to sometimes as “green card holders.”

Lawfully admitted for permanent residence status can be attained in various ways, including family or employment characteristics, the “green card lottery” or relief such as asylum.

A third category of aliens present in the country are “undocumented aliens” who lack lawful immigration status. These aliens may have overstayed their time in the United States or entered the country illegally. The number of these individuals is approximately twelve million. Hazleton’s use of the term “illegal alien” evidently is aimed at these individuals.So - which undocumented aliens can stay in the US, that's the next question:Even if an alien is deemed removable after removal proceedings, they may nonetheless be allowed to stay in the United States. For example, relief from removal may be obtained by spouses and other relatives of United States citizens, victims of domestic violence, and those seeking protection from persecution or torture under the Convention Against Torture. Additionally, the United States Attorney General "may cancel removal in the case of an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien - - - (1) has been an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence for not less than 5 years, (2) has resided in the United States continuously for 7 years after having been admitted in any status, and (3) has not been convicted of any aggravated felony."

Hence, the federal immigration rules and the decision whether an alien should be removed are very complex. More than resorting to the Basic Pilot Program or the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (“SAVE”) is necessary to determine if federal government seeks the removal of an individual from the United States.


This is crazy. It's like the gov't saying it doesn't really matter anyway.
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Hazleton Penna immigrant law voided by judge

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RedGlitter;669493 wrote: This is crazy. It's like the gov't saying it doesn't really matter anyway.The alternative is the dictatorship of the majority. It's the reason there are constitutional restraints and rights - not to benefit the majority, but to protect the minority.

By all means simplify the law if you can manage it. Pressing to have it enforced promptly and universally would satisfy everyone though. It's not your legislature at fault in this instance, it's law enforcement that can't be arsed to earn its keep. It's so much more fun bullying terrified citizens than efficiently implementing the will of the people.
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