Appeals Court to Pennsylvania Town: Illegal Immigration Is a Federal Matter

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Long before Arizona’s push to promulgate restrictions, Hazleton, Pa. had its own version of a crackdown.

Back in 2007, a federal judge rejected the city’s attempts to enforce its Illegal Immigration Relief Act. The motion came in lieu of a fatal shooting involving a pair of illegal immigrants, and was designed to curb landlords doling out rentals and businesses instituting permits to undocumented persons.

After four years of no enforcement, residual support for the law led to Thursday’s circuit court decision. The AP reports that in similar fashion, a judge ruled the local legislation trumps 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. We are, however, required to intervene when states and localities directly undermine the federal objectives embodied in statutes enacted by Congress,” wrote Chief Judge Theodore McKee of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

While his local illegal immigration efforts suffered a setback, Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta is determined to take his plan to a national level. The Republican is currently immersed in his third run for Congress, touting himself as the man who “started it all” when it comes to illegal immigration reform.

“I have no doubt that Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act will be upheld by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals,” Barletta wrote in a statement on his campaign site. “We expect to receive that ruling very soon.”

Thursday’s news turned “no doubt” into a flat no, leaving a local axe toward Arizona’s current enforcement.