Court nixes Pa. town’s immigration laws

    An appeals court in Philadelphia struck down the 2006 ordinances of Hazleton Pa., which were aimed at punishing people who did business with illegal aliens. The town plans to appeal the decision.

    A federal appeals court in Philadelphia has struck down the controversial immigration laws of a northeastern Pennsylvania town called Hazelton.

    The town passed immigration laws in 2006 that punished employers who hired illegal immigrants and fined landlords who rented to them. The move set off a national immigration debate and inspired copy-cat laws across the country.

    Immigrant advocates and Latino civil rights groups soon joined forces to challenge the laws in court.

    “Hazleton pioneered this wave of divisive laws that swept the country,” says Vic Walczak, the legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “These are laws that tore communities apart along ethnic and racial lines. And today’s decision is a pointed repudiation of these local anti-immigration laws.”

    Walczak says this is the first time a federal appeals court has ruled on the issue.

    Former Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta says he will appeal to the U.S.  Supreme Court. The ordinances have never been enforced.

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