HAZLETON, Pa. — A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that Hazleton, Pa., may not enforce its crackdown on illegal immigrants, dealing another blow to 4-year-old regulations that inspired similar measures around the country. The city’s mayor pledged to take the case to the Supreme Court.
The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia said that Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act usurped the federal government’s exclusive power to regulate immigration.
“It is . . . not our job to sit in judgment of whether state and local frustration about federal immigration policy is warranted,’’ wrote Chief Judge Theodore McKee. “We are, however, required to intervene when states and localities directly undermine the federal objectives embodied in statutes enacted by Congress.’’
Appeals courts are split on whether states and municipalities have the right to enforce laws dealing with immigration. The US Supreme Court will hear arguments over a 2007 Arizona law that prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.
Hazleton, a northeastern Pennsylvania city of more than 30,000, had sought to fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs. A companion measure required prospective tenants to register with City Hall.
Mayor Lou Barletta had pushed the measures in 2006 after two illegal immigrants were charged in a fatal shooting. The Republican mayor, now mounting his third try for Congress, argued that illegal immigrants brought drugs, crime, and gangs to the city and overwhelmed police, schools, and hospitals.