Court rules against Hazleton immigration law

Posted: July 28, 2013

Hazleton, Pa., has lost another round in federal court as it tries to enforce ordinances that crack down on illegal immigrants.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Friday reaffirmed its ruling that the Northeastern Pennsylvania city's 2006 law is unconstitutional because it preempts the federal government's jurisdiction over immigration.

The law would penalize landlords who rented to illegal immigrants, and employers who hired them. It was immediately challenged by Hispanic and other groups, and blocked in 2007 by a federal district court.

The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, originally ruled against it 2010. In 2011, the Supreme Court ordered the Third Circuit to review Hazleton's ordinances again after the Supreme Court upheld a similar - but narrower - law in Arizona.

On Friday, the appeals court ruled that Hazleton's law was flawed, said Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which represents opponents of the Hazleton law. For instance, Hazleton's law failed to provide an appeals process to someone who contested a fine.

Joe Yannuzzi, Hazleton's mayor, said the city will continue its legal battle and attempt to bring the case to the Supreme Court again. He said the city's roughly $500,000 in legal costs have been covered by private donations.

"It has to go to the Supreme Court," Yannuzzi said. "There has to be a final decision made on it one way or another."


Contact Ben Finley at 610-313-8118 or bfinley@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @Ben_Finley. Get more Bucks County news at Inquirer.com/bucksinq.

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