Local Anti-Immigrant Ordinance Cases

Document Date: January 5, 2007

Day laborers in Riverside, N.J.

The ACLU is fighting discriminatory housing and employment ordinances in the following states:

> CALIFORNIA: Garrett v. City of Escondido

> GEORGIA: Stewart v. Cherokee County, Ga.

> MISSOURI: Reynolds v. City of Valley Park, Mo.

> NEW JERSEY: Riverside Coalition of Business Persons and Landlords v. Township of Riverside

> PENNSYLVANIA: Lozano v. City of Hazleton

> TEXAS: Vasquez v. City of Farmers Branch

> Casos de Ordenanzas Anti-Inmigrantes a Nivel Local
> La Ordenanza Anti-Inmigrante de Hazleton, Pa.

In states, towns, cities, and counties across the U.S., the ACLU is successfully fighting a wave of anti-immigrant ordinances that attempt to drive out immigrants and their families by punishing those who employ or rent to individuals the ordinances classify as “illegal.”

These ordinances attempt to legislate locally in the area of immigration law and violate the longstanding constitutional principle that immigration regulation is under the sole jurisdiction of the federal government. Although local entities claim to use these laws as immigration enforcement tools, these regulations do little – if anything – to decrease undocumented immigration or to address real problems faced by municipalities. Instead, the ordinances invite discrimination against anyone who speaks with an accent or looks “foreign” and prevent innocent people from finding employment or housing.

In the past two years, courts have ruled against anti-immigrant ordinances across the country including in Hazleton, Pennsylvania; Escondido, California; and Farmers Branch, Texas. These lawsuits have confirmed that the ordinances have serious legal flaws, have cost local governments thousands of dollars, and have caused other cities to rethink passing similar ordinances.

In Riverside, New Jersey the town council repealed an anti-immigrant ordinance after the ACLU filed a lawsuit. Reports noted that the law stood on poor legal footing and that it had actually damaged the town’s economy by driving out a vibrant, entrepreneurial immigrant community.

Rather than waste taxpayer money and municipal resources on these misguided laws, responsible officials would do better to address their concerns about immigration by supporting more rational policies instead of restrictive statutes that violate both the law and American values of fairness.