Local immigration enforcement measures upheld by Federal courts

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The New York Times reports today on a trend: Federal courts are upholding locally-enacted immigration enforcement measures, such as Oklahoma's HB 1804, which went into effect on November 1, 2007, and a similar Arizona law that went into effect on January 1, 2008. Last year, several similar measures were struck down by the Federal courts.

After groups challenging state and local laws cracking down on illegal immigration won a series of high-profile legal victories last year, the tide has shifted as federal judges recently handed down several equally significant decisions upholding those laws.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Arizona ruled against a lawsuit by construction contractors and immigrant organizations who sought to halt a state law that went into effect on Jan. 1 imposing severe penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The judge, Neil V. Wake of Federal District Court, methodically rejected all of the contractors' arguments that the Arizona law invaded legal territory belonging exclusively to the federal government.

On Jan. 31, a federal judge in Missouri, E. Richard Webber, issued a similarly broad and even more forcefully worded decision in favor of an ordinance aimed at employers of illegal immigrants adopted by Valley Park, Mo., a city on the outskirts of St. Louis.

And, in an even more sweeping ruling in December, a judge in Oklahoma, James H. Payne, threw out a lawsuit against a state statute enacted last year requiring state contractors to verify new employees' immigration status. Judge Payne said the immigrants should not be able to bring their claims to court because they were living in the country in violation of the law....

Judge Payne of Oklahoma, ruling Dec. 12 on state laws that took effect in November, went furthest in questioning the rights of illegal immigrants.

"These illegal alien plaintiffs seek nothing more than to use this court as a vehicle for their continued unlawful presence in this country," he wrote. "To allow these plaintiffs to do so would make this court an 'abettor of iniquity,' and this court finds that simply unpalatable."

The Times story mentions ordinances in Hazelton, Pa., and Escondido, Ca., which were overturned in Federal court. Surprisingly, the Times notes the change in the trend from overruling to upholding without identifying the cause: Authors of the later legislation, like Oklahoma State Rep. Randy Terrill, studied the earlier court decisions and ensured that the new laws would avoid the same legal pitfalls.

(Via Michelle Malkin.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 10, 2008 2:22 PM.

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