Immigration

Illegal Immigrants at Hazleton's Gates

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Today a federal judge in Pennsylvania began to hear the case for and against a Hazleton ordinance that threatens to fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and revoke the permits of businesses that employ them. Enforcement of the law, which is similar to measures proposed in many other municipalities, has been blocked pending the outcome of the case. The ACLU argues that the law violates the Constitution's Supremacy Clause by impinging on the federal government's authority to enforce the immigration laws; the right to due process by failing to provide adequate means to contest the city's determination that a particular tenant or employee is in the country illegally; and the right to equal protection by encouraging discrimination against Latinos. The city (my mother's hometown, incidentally) argues that illegal immigrants are bad news, committing crimes and driving up the costs of education and health care. I'm not sure how those concerns, whether or not they're justified, rebut the ACLU's constitutional arguments.

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  1. “The ACLU argues that the law violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause by impinging on the federal government’s authority to enforce the immigration laws;”

    Does the law claim to strip away the feds’ authority, or does it act in conjunction with it?

    “the right to due process by failing to provide adequate means to contest the city’s determination that a particular tenant or employee is in the country illegally;”

    They don’t have notice and hearings in PA?

    “and the right to equal protection by encouraging discrimination against Latinos.”

    Are Latinos alone covered by the law?

  2. I like this part of the law:

    “A companion measure requires tenants to register with City Hall.”

    If we all register with City Hall, it won’t make the sex offenders and illegals feel put upon.

  3. Landlords, especially individuals who are renting out a spare house, are not going to be expert enough to determine legal residency.

    I think a reasonable solution would be to require the city to provide a list of acceptable tenants to all landlords. The list must include a comprehensive list of all legal immigrants and current US citizens. The list must be complete, obviously, so clearly until they can certify that 100% of all current US citizens and legal residents are on the list, they would be disallowed from enforcing the law – just to make sure that no legal residents or citizens are denied their legal right to live where they choose.

  4. Federal Dog:

    Without troubling to go beyond Jacob’s summary of the case, I’d be astonished if the ordinance “claim[ed] to strip away the feds’ authority”. The question will be whether the Constitution or an act of Congress have arrogated such authority exclusively to the feds, either explicitly or implicitly.

    Re due process: You might be surprised. Lots of laws that provide rights of appeal, etc. are nonetheless struck down on due process grounds. This is likely the ACLU’s strongest argument.

    “encouraging discrimination against Latinos”: Probably the weakest argument. Although as-applied discrimination can be a basis for striking down a law, that’s uncommon where the ordinance has not yet been put into effect with resulting actual discrimination.

  5. I’m not sure how those concerns, whether or not they’re justified, rebut the ACLU’s constitutional arguments.

    Because folks don’t care about principled constitutional arguments, apparently. They care more about the nativists’ consequentialist claims.

  6. The city (my mother’s hometown, incidentally) argues that illegal immigrants are bad news, committing crimes and driving up the costs of education and health care. I’m not sure how those concerns, whether or not they’re justified, rebut the ACLU’s constitutional arguments.

    They aren’t designed to rebut the Constitutional arguments; they’re designed to trump them. Immigrants bad. Rights nice if we can afford them. Must have security. It’s for the children.

  7. I live very close to Hazelton, about 10 miles. I am not fully for the law, but I think that we have to follow the law. To be in this country, you have to be here legally. If I as a citizen leave to Canada, I have to cross the border legally, and come back legally.

    This is aimed at people who are did not follow this process and are here illegally. If they want to be here be here legally.

    Granted the process to come here is typical of a convoluted beaurracracy and should be changed, but until then, follow immigration laws and move to this country lawfully.

  8. My guess is that this should get struck down under the plenary power doctrine. States aren’t allowed to discriminate against immigrants for the most part. Partially because it is inherent in the sovereignty of the US to control its borders and partly because it is the federal governments job, not the states, to piss off foreign countries.

    However, this is discriminating against illegal immigrants so they already are not supposed to be here.

  9. I’m not sure how those concerns, whether or not they’re justified, rebut the ACLU’s constitutional arguments.

    Oh come on. Their arguments are “OH YEAH? NUH UH!”

  10. Excuse me, I am having off-all-day issues with the word usage here.

    illegal immigrants

    The people we are speaking of are not IMMIGRANTS they are ALIENS. If they did not do it legal they are ILLEGAL ALIENS.

    Thank goodness theis was not “worded over” with “unducomented” as if it were just a paperwork mixup.

  11. To be in this country, you have to be here legally. If I as a citizen leave to Canada, I have to cross the border legally, and come back legally.

    Hey Tom,

    Do you carefully follow all of the laws of this country?

  12. Alien just means foreigner. Immigrant means someone who comes to stay. They overlap, but not exactly.

  13. The people we are speaking of are not IMMIGRANTS they are ALIENS. If they did not do it legal they are ILLEGAL ALIENS.

    Thank goodness theis was not “worded over” with “unducomented” as if it were just a paperwork mixup.

    Guy,
    Speaking of paperwork mixups, what paperwork are you willing to present to somebody to rent an apartment? How about your driver’s license? What, you don’t drive you say? Well then something else perhaps. Are you willing to flash your SSN card, maybe let your landlord have a copy for his records? No? Worried about the number getting out. I understand. Well then what do you propose a landlord is to do to verify the residency of a “non-legal” immigrant, eh? How is he to determine if it is an “illegal” or just somebody who doesn’t want to flash his papers?

    Are you willing to fine the landlord or send him to jail for not obtaining papers from his tenants? Perhaps we could make it illegal for citizens to not possess papers proving their residency, that’d work, yes? Yes, that would do quite nicely.

    May I see your papers please?

  14. This is aimed at people who are did not follow this process and are here illegally. If they want to be here be here legally.

    If there were a way to measure the minimum argument required to handle all debate, this might be the winner.

    If they are taking drugs, take drugs legally. If they are fugitive slaves, be fugitive slaves legally. If they are riding the bus, ride the bus legally.

    Wonderful…

  15. Are Latinos alone covered by the law?

    Hmmm, are they indeed. And does it matter?

    I recall a Canadian acquaintance, whose status was somewhat questionable, once remarking “Wow, it’s really strange. My buddy, Xavier, from Puerto Rico, is constantly hassled about his immigration status, while I am not. I wonder why that is.”

  16. Of course, I don’t need to worry. I’m only half Puerto Rican.

  17. Given the difficulty Pennsylvanians seem to have distinguishing Dutch from Deutsch, I question their ability to distinguish Puerto Rican from Mexican.

  18. Kwix,

    After you come back down from whatever natural (or not) high that you are on, I raised none of those issues. I was simply stating that words mean things and fuzzing them up does not help a discussion.

  19. If we all register with City Hall, it won’t make the sex offenders and illegals feel put upon.

    Watch out man! A few weeks ago I proposed that nobody need register at City Hall, except for wills and such, and the homosexual mafia typed in caps a bunch at me for being “homophobic”!

  20. Guy, why does that fact that someone migrated illegally make them not immigrants?

  21. Putting all that aside, I don’t want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty.

  22. I’m only half Puerto Rican.

    Odd, I always thought you were British.

  23. Odd, I always thought you were British.

    Oh, that’s the other half.

    After all, my father was the King’s Botanist.

  24. Thomas Paine’s Goiter raises the issue of scrupulously following the laws, without realizing that what’s at issue here is foreign citizens ignoring our laws. And, the great majority of U.S. citizens want those laws enforced. Try again, after factoring that into your analysis.

    Bonus: why are there so many IllegalAliens here when the great majority of Americans don’t support IllegalImmigration? Is that our fault, or is that indicative of deep PoliticalCorruption?

    Isaac Bartram: well then, your buddy should fight those who encourage people to think that way. Certainly, the fact that most of our IllegalAliens are Hispanic goes a long way towards that impression. But, it’s helped along by those far-left groups (and the Dems) that constantly try to conflate “IllegalAlien” with “immigrant” and “Hispanic” with both. There’s a group called the “YouDontSpeakForMe” coalition, suggest he join them and fight the far-lefties.

    Speaking of which, did you know that the ACLU has an indirect link to the MexicanGovernment? They’re part of a coalition that includes three other groups who are now or have worked directly with the MexicanGovernment; the leader of the group has several links to that government. And, the AP has in at least four articles about him failed to note those connections.

    I’m absolutely positive that there are many aspects of this general issue that the contributors to Reason are unaware of, so let me suggest some research.

  25. Hey Tom,

    Do you carefully follow all of the laws of this country?

    Yes, generally. And if I do break a law and get caught I should be punished. Laws I disagree with I just don’t disregard. I work within the system to change.

  26. Bonus: why are there so many IllegalAliens here when the great majority of Americans don’t support IllegalImmigration? Is that our fault, or is that indicative of deep PoliticalCorruption?

    Bonus: why don’t we all have free houses when the great majority of Americans support free houses? Is that our fault, or is that indicitive of the fact that government power isn’t limitless and we’re not willing to spend trillions of dollars on such things?

  27. Landlords, especially individuals who are renting out a spare house, are not going to be expert enough to determine legal residency.

    Every employer is required to. Its not that hard. There is a finite and easily understandable number of ways to confirm this.

    Its no more an impossibility or an imposition for landlords to confirm citizenship than employers, so I don’t think the objections re: discrimination, due process, or general workability have much weight.

    Now, the federalism issue is a different nut, and one I have no opinion on.

  28. May I see your papers please?

    I’ve never rented place without a credit check, work history info etc.

  29. I’m sorry this is apparently so hard for “libertarians” to fathom, but free houses are not the law. However, we do have laws concerning ImmigrationMatters. And, when those laws are allowed to be broken on a massive scale, those who are able to think things through ask, “why?”

    So, when you do that, you come to the conclusion that our politicians – those employed to write and enforce our laws – are not doing the job they said they would do?

    Why would they refu$e to do their job$? It’$ a my$tery to me!

  30. “Do you carefully follow all of the laws of this country?”

    Yes, generally. And if I do break a law and get caught I should be punished. Laws I disagree with I just don’t disregard. I work within the system to change.

    Right, but should your landlord be responsible for ensuring that you have obeyed all the laws of the land before renting you an apartment? And more specifically, should he be fined for failing to detect such law breaking?

    The problem here is that landlords are being fined for doing business with people who have broken the law. They are required to determine that every person they ever do business with have not broken immigration law. It’s no easy task to determine the immigration status of a prospective tenant.

    Most landlords, when faced with the risk of a hefty fine if they make a mistake on this front, will probably opt to refuse a rental to anyone with brown skin and a funny accent. This in turn will probably run them up against anti-discrimination or equal housing laws. It’s a terrible and stupid idea for city governments to expect individual citizens to enforce these laws – at least without providing very clear guidelines on what constitutes reasonable proof of legal residency.

    Whether you think immigration law is just or unjust is beside the point in this instance. These laws are an unreasonable burden on landowners, and are likely to lead to discrimination against legal immigrants. Both of these are bad ideas.

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