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February 02, 2008

Federal Judge Upholds Mo. Town’s Ordinance Punishing Businesses That Hire Illegal Immigrants

Posted in: Law enforcement

Int. Herald Tribune

ST. LOUIS: A federal judge has upheld an ordinance in a suburban St. Louis town that penalizes businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber ruled late Thursday that the city of Valley Park, Mo.’s ordinance is not pre-empted by federal law, does not discriminate against Hispanics and does not violate due-process rights or Missouri law.

The ordinance “is not preempted by federal law, to the contrary, federal law specifically permits such licensing laws as the one at issue,” Webber wrote.

Valley Park is one of several cities around the country that have attempted to clamp down on illegal immigration, citing a lack of federal action.

Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who handled the case for Valley Park, said the ruling “gives a green light to other communities” looking to adopt similar legislation.

City officials in Valley Park have been embroiled in court battles since passing the town’s first immigration law in 2006. That original law, since rescinded, fined landlords if they were found to rent to illegal immigrants. Valley Park subsequently passed a law going after businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged both laws, and a St. Louis County judge agreed that both violated state law. Webber, in his 57-page ruling, disagreed.

In a statement, the ACLU said the law was aimed at driving immigrants out of the small working class St. Louis County town of about 6,500.

“If every city and town across the country were allowed to enact its own immigration laws, we would end up with chaos and confusion causing discrimination and profiling against individuals based on their appearance, accent and ethnicity,” said Lucas Guttentag, the ACLU’s immigrants rights project director.

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