On Jun 07 2011 by Klasko Immigration

Supreme Court Breathes New Life into Hazelton Controversy

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States vacated an order ruling unconstitutional the Illegal Immigration Relief Act ordinance of Hazelton, Pennsylvania. At issue is the local law that would penalize landlords who knowingly or with reckless disregard rent to an “illegal alien”, which is defined as “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States” according to federal law. Separate provisions penalize employers hiring aliens without work authorization.

The Court remanded the case to the Third Circuit for further consideration in light of its rationale in Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Whiting. As we mentioned last month, the Court’s ruling in Whiting will have nationwide effects and may lead to varying state law approaches to immigration-related laws and penalties.

It is important to note, however, that while the law at issue in Whiting and that enacted by Hazleton have some similarities, the Supreme Court has only upheld non-federal laws dealing with employment eligibility and the corresponding penalties for noncompliance. It remains to be seen how the Third Circuit will reconsider the legal issues presented by the Hazelton ordinance.