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- 04-16-2012, 11:58 PM #1
United States: Status Of Court Challenges To State And Local Government Immigration L
United States: Status Of Court Challenges To State And Local Government Immigration Laws
Mondaq Business Briefing
April 16, 2012 Monday
Court challenges to several restrictive state and local government immigration laws on the basis that they violate the United States Constitution and are preempted by federal immigration laws are continuing to prove successful. On March 21, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld a federal district court ruling that enjoined a law in Farmers Branch, Texas, that bars undocumented immigrants from renting housing in the town. The law also revokes the licenses of landlords who knowingly rent to such individuals. The Fifth Circuit determined that the law is preempted by and thus violates federal immigration laws. A similar law in Nebraska was struck down by a federal district court there on the basis that it was discriminatory in violation of federal law.
On March 8, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit temporarily enjoined enforcement of Alabama's HB 56 that barred courts from enforcing contracts involving illegal immigrants, and prohibited illegal immigrants from conducting business with the state. The court delayed its decision on a permanent injunction until the United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Arizona's immigration law (SB 1070) in April 2012 (Arizona, et al. v. United States (No. 11-182)). The 11th Circuit also heard arguments regarding Georgia's HB 87, which authorized police to demand papers showing citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, criminalized interactions with undocumented individuals, and made it difficult for individuals without specific identification documents to access state facilities and services.
In the meantime, a new Georgia immigration measure, SB 458, was passed in the Georgia Senate and on March 30, 2012, was still pending in the House of Representatives. The bill passed by the Senate contained a provision banning all undocumented students from public universities and colleges in the state, but was later removed from the House version. The bill also bars state and local governments from accepting many foreign passports as proof of identification, unless the passport is submitted with a valid United States Homeland Security Form I-94 or I-94A or other federal document that specifies the holder's lawful immigration status. Like Alabama's law, this will leave immigrants and foreign tourists unable to prove their identity in a number of commercial and government situations.
The majority of these state measures were inspired by SB1070, Arizona's infamous immigration law. A federal district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit have blocked Arizona's enforcement of several key parts of the law, after being challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice. The State of Arizona appealed those rulings, and on April 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments. Only eight justices will participate, which could result in a 4-4 tie and the upholding of the lower court rulings.
Overall five states-Utah, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina-have passed immigration measures similar to Arizona SB 1070. The lower federal courts have blocked unconstitutional provisions in all five states from taking effect.
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