Hazleton, Pa.’s 2006 law clamping down on illegal immigrants, which prompted similar moves across the U.S., has been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the Washington Post reports. The city’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act would penalize landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and employers who hire them. The appellate court upheld a lower court ruling that cities and towns did not have the power to enact such legislation, ruling that authority over illegal immigration lies solely with the federal government.
It is the latest in a string of court challenges to local measures aimed at illegal immigration. A similar ordinance approved by residents of Fremont, Ne., has been put on hold by the city, which anticipates a court challenge. Key sections of an Arizona law that would allow police officers to check the immigration status of suspects stopped for something else, were held up by a federal judge in July after challenges by the federal government and others. Chief Judge Theodore McKee’s 188-page opinion concluded that the Pennsylvania city’s ordinance was “pre-empted by federal immigration law and unconstitutional.”