Hazleton Pa., whose mayor says illegal immigration is “destroying small towns” that don’t have the budget to deal with the influx, has anacted a law that fines landlords for renting to illegal immigrants and punishes employers for hiring them, says USA Today. Mayor Lou Barletta wants to require renters to obtain permits assuring landlords that they are in the country legally. That would require a background check with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Other communities also are targeting landlords and employers. A similar law passed recently in Riverside, N.J., and others are being considered in places where leaders have complained for months about inaction by federal lawmakers. Opponents are gearing up for a fight in Hazleton. “This is a test case that will serve as a model for challenges around the country,” says criminal defense lawyer David Vaida of Allentown, Pa. He has joined forces with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and says they are preparing a lawsuit. Kris Kobach, once an immigration adviser to former attorney general John Ashcroft, says it is possible to draft a local ordinance that deals with immigration that will stand up to judicial scrutiny.