Challenge to Hazleton's Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

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On July 26, 2007, a federal judge struck down the Hazleton anti-immigrant ordinance. A copy of Judge James Munley's opinion can be found here (749k PDF).

The city of Hazleton appealed the decision, and oral argument took place on October 30, 2008, before a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.

On September 9, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an order upholding Judge Munley's ruling blocking enforcement of Hazleton's anti-immigrant law.

Press releases:


Background

In October 2006, a federal judge issued a restraining order preventing the town of Hazleton, Pa., from enforcing anti-immigrant legislation that it had enacted in the summer of that year.

Businesses that refuse to comply with the laws and investigate the immigration status of employees and tenants would be fined or denied business permits. The law lacks any provision enabling targets of these investigations to effectively challenge determinations as to their status. The ordinances were slated to go into effect November 1, 2006. The city of Hazelton subsequently passed several new ordinances meant to replace the first set of ordinances, which the court also prevented from going into effect pending a full determination of their validity.

"We expect the government to make laws that will prevent discrimination, not require it."

- Omar Jadwat
ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project

Without citing any evidence, Hazleton officials have blamed many of the town’s ills, including crime and economic burdens, on undocumented immigrants. Supporters of the law have stated that their goal is to drive so-called "illegal aliens" out of town. Many Hispanics, including legal U.S. residents, have already left Hazleton and Hispanic-owned businesses are struggling to stay open, according to business association estimates.

The trial, the first of its kind, was held March 12, in Scranton, PA, and concluded March 22. Judge James M. Munley presided. On July 26, 2007, Judge Munley struck down the Hazleton anti-immigrant ordinance.

The city of Hazleton appealed the decision, and oral argument took place on October 30, 2008, before a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.

On September 9, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued href="/index.php/download_file/view/645/46/">an order upholding Judge Munley's ruling blocking enforcement of Hazleton's anti-immigrant law.

In addition to the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Community Justice Project, the law firm of Cozen O’Connor and local attorneys George Barron, David Vaida and Barry Dyller.