On March 3, the Supreme Court denied petitions for certiorari in two cases focused on city immigration ordinances. The cases, City of Farmers Branch v. Villas at Parkside Partners and City of Hazleton v. Lozano, concern ordinances passed in Farmers Branch, Texas and Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Each law required property renters to carry verifiable identification that could be presented to immigration authorities. In turn, these authorities would fine landlords who rented to undocumented immigrants. Additionally, the Hazleton law set forth penalties for businesses that knowingly employed undocumented immigrants. In both cases, federal courts of appeal held that the ordinances were preempted by federal immigration law and struck them down.
The Supreme Court most recently dealt with the issue of immigration in 2012 when it partially upheld Arizona’s controversial immigration law. In that case, the Court noted that immigration issues were questions for the federal government, not local legislatures. The Court’s denial of the Farmers Branch and Hazleton appeals, along with its refusal to hear arguments in a 2013 immigration case from Alabama, signifies its reluctance to rule on state or city immigration laws.
-written by an HRI legal volunteer
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