After AZ, More Anti-Immigration Laws Blocked

Flickr/<a href="">th.omas</a>

Well before Arizona passed its controversial immigration law this year, a slew of other states and municipalities tried to pass laws targeting illegal immigrants. A federal appeals court ruled today that Hazleton, Pennsylvania, could not fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants or deny business permits to companies that hire them. The laws, spearheaded by Republican Mayor Lou Bartletta who’s currently running for Congress, were passed in 2006 after two illegal immigrants were charged in a fatal shooting.

The federal appeals court ruled that the Hazleton laws were illegal because they pre-empted federal authority on immigration, which was the same rationale cited by the judge who blocked Arizona from implementing its immigration law this summer. “We are…required to intervene when states and localities directly undermine the federal objectives embodied in statutes enacted by Congress,” wrote Chief Judge Theodore McKee.

Before Arizona, Hazleton had been one of the biggest rallying cries for immigration activists on both sides of the debate, and the city’s laws inspired many copycat measures in other communities. The ACLU, which was among the civil rights groups that challenged the laws, hailed the ruling as a major victory. “This is a major defeat for the misguided, divisive, and expensive anti-immigrant strategy that Hazleton has tried to export to the rest of the country,” said Omar Jadwat, an ACLU staff attorney, in a press release.

The Hazleton ruling should put a damper on some of the anti-immigration laws that states and local communities have tried to put on the books, and help the Obama administration’s case that the Arizona law is unconstitutional. It’s also another blow to Kris Kobach—the conservative attorney mastermind behind the Arizona law—who was called in to defend the Hazleton measures as well.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Give a Year of the Truth

at our special holiday rate

just $12

Order Now

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.