In a high-profile Pennsylvania case that helped spark the ongoing national debate over immigration policy, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the City of Hazleton has no right to punish businesses or landlords who hire or rent to illegal immigrants.
The ruling, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, upheld a 2007 lower-court decision prohibiting Hazleton from enforcing local immigration ordinances.
The judges said federal immigration law preempted Hazleton’s controversial 2006 initiatives.
“Federal law simply does not prohibit landlords from renting [in the ordinary course of business] to persons who lack lawful immigration status,” Chief Judge Theodore McKee wrote. “Nor does federal law directly prohibit persons lacking lawful status from renting apartments.”
The ruling sets up a likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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