Hazleton, Pa. is among several localities that enacted anti-immigration ordinances in the absence of a comprehensive Federal reform. However, a new court decision has ruled that approach unconstitutional.
On Sept. 9, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that matters pertaining to immigration regulation are "clearly within the exclusive domain of the Federal government."
In saying so, the court overturned two local ordinances adopted in 2006, one of which would have penalized landlords and employers for renting to or hiring illegal immigrants. The other would have required prospective tenants to prove their legal status and buy a residential permit.
The town was sued by Hispanic groups and illegal immigrants and the ruling was praised for its support of the Constitution by the American Civil Liberties Union.
However, Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta expressed regret, saying that "this ruling is a loss for Hazleton and its legal residents."
The two laws, which were never enforced, inspired more than a dozen other states and municipalities across the nation to pass similar measures, and most have been overturned in courts, according to Los Angeles Times.