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Strictest immigration laws put to the test

Friday, August 25, 2006
Strictest immigration laws put to the test
By Kavan Peterson, Stateline.org Staff Writer       


Sweeping new immigration laws in Colorado and Georgia may be the toughest state actions yet, but more than a dozen local governments are taking an even harder line that in some towns is leading landlords to start evicting illegal immigrants.
 
Since the Pennsylvania city of Hazleton became the first to go after not only employers but also landlords of illegal immigrants on July 13, dozens of other local governments are debating similar ordinances seeking to deter illegal immigrants from settling in their communities.
 
Courts are now considering legal challenges against Hazleton and the town of Riverside, N.J., which copied the Pennsylvania town’s ordinance to fine landlords $1,000 per day for renting to illegal immigrants and to strip business licenses from employers who hire undocumented workers. Opponents say the measures violate federal law by creating new immigration controls, which only Congress has the authority to do.
 
Four other communities already have passed measures based on Hazleton's, including Valley Park, Mo., where landlords started evicting dozens of tenants who are not legal residents earlier this month. At least 17 more cities are considering similar measures, according to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, which filed the lawsuit against Hazleton's ordinance Aug. 15.
 
The outcome of the legal challenges will help determine how far state and local governments can go in their attempt to deter illegal immigration, advocates on both sides of the issue said.

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