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The Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal by two towns attempting to restore implementation of local immigration enforcement laws.
Farmers Branch, Texas and Hazleton, Pennsylvania both filed appeals to the Supreme Court after local appellate courts said that federal law would not permit the implementation of the ordinances.
Officials in both towns passed the laws in response to what they saw as a lack of appropriate federal enforcement of immigration laws. Among other things, the ordinances required tenants to provide identification that could be corroborated by checking immigration records. They also penalized landlords for renting to undocumented immigrants – and, in the case of Hazleton, employers could likewise be punished for unlawful hiring. Groups of tenants, landlords, employers, and workers successfully challenged the laws in court.
Five out of six federal courts of appeals that have dealt with the issue of local immigration enforcement have ruled that such ordinances conflict with federal jurisdiction on immigration. The one exception has been the Eighth Circuit court, based in St. Louis, Missouri, which upheld a similar ordinance passed in Fremont, Nebraska in June 2013. That law was distinct, however, in that it did not punish the immigrants themselves (the present ordinances allow for the fining and imprisonment of immigrants).
The Supreme Court has rarely touched immigration cases. The most recent occurrence was in 2012, when the Court partially upheld Arizona’s immigration law. In April 2013, however, the Court declined to hear an appeal from Alabama in which the state tried to restore an old immigration that criminalized the harboring of undocumented immigrants.
Alberto Gonzálezis the Associate Editor of Aleteia’s English edition. His prior endeavors have included working in political campaigns and in the United States Senate. He also maintains an active schedule as a liturgical vocalist and organist.
A native of California, Alberto graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2010 with a B.A. in Music and Political Science. He currently lives in the greater Washington, D.C. area.