Thursday, June 24, 2010

CONSTITUTION - Immigration Law Ruling

"Texas federal judge rules immigration law unconstitutional" BNET 5/26/2010

A federal judge has declared unconstitutional an ordinance in a Texas city that, like a law proposed in Hazleton, prohibits landlords from renting to illegal immigrants, according to published reports.

In a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle of Dallas said only the federal government - not a community like Farmers Branch, Texas - can enforce U.S. immigration laws, the Dallas Morning News reported.

"We are cautiously optimistic that the Farmers Branch ordinance will be upheld on appeal," Kobach said in the report.

Nina Perales, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers on the Farmers Branch case, praised the ruling and referenced the Hazleton proposal, which was struck down in a federal court in Scranton in 2007.

"This is the third ordinance that has fallen," Perales, of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in San Antonio, told the Dallas Morning News. "At some point, Farmers Branch has to realize it is not worth the financial drain or the cost to race relations in the city."

Both sides in the Hazleton case await a ruling from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments in the case in October 2008.

"It is pretty clear that the way these cases are moving through the appellate courts that this is an issue that ultimately the Supreme Court will have to decide," Mike Hethmon, general counsel of the Immigration Reform Law Institute in Washington, told the Dallas newspaper.

Whether local and state officials can regulate illegal immigration is a persistent concern, Hethmon said in the report.

Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, professor at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, N.Y., said he is monitoring the Farmers Branch and Hazleton cases, and noted a recent ruling in favor of Arizona, which had imposed sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

As lower courts continue to offer differing opinions on whether local government can regulate illegal immigration, it is more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue, he said.

"If there is a conflict between different circuits, then the case could end up in the Supreme Court," Yale-Loehr told the Dallas newspaper.

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