Civil Rights Coalition Condemns Court Decision Upholding Missouri Employer Sanctions Law

January 31, 2008 12:00 am

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VALLEY PARK, MO – Today a Missouri federal court upheld the City of Valley Park’s so-called “Illegal Immigration Relief Act” that unlawfully punishes business owners and employers who are suspected of hiring undocumented workers.

The Act is the latest in a series of ordinances passed in Valley Park seeking to drive immigrants out of the City. After the first two of such laws were struck down by a Missouri state court in a separate lawsuit in March of last year, Valley Park, in an attempt to circumvent that court decision, enacted amended ordinances that punished employers and landlords for renting to or hiring undocumented immigrants. Valley Park decided to repeal the housing ordinance this past summer when faced with a lawsuit brought by a several landlords. The decision today addresses only the remaining employment ordinance.

The following can be attributed to ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project Director Lucas Guttentag:

“This decision contradicts the other court rulings invalidating municipal ordinances and is at odds with the clear congressional mandate imposing a uniform federal immigration enforcement system. 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. The city’s attempt to force local employers to use a flawed federal database ignores the proven errors and inaccuracies in that system.”

The following can be attributed to Ricardo Meza, Midwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF:

“Valley Park wisely abandoned its earlier attempt to deny housing based on suspected immigration status and should do the same with this discriminatory employment law. As Escondido, California and other cities that have rejected or repealed similar ordinances know, punishing immigrants is not only illegal but unwise. The real solution to the misguided concerns that lead localities to enact these ordinances is for Congress to fix the broken immigration system and adopt comprehensive immigration reform.”

Courts have struck down local anti-immigrant ordinances across the country. Cases include Lozano v. City of Hazleton in Hazelton, Pennsylvania; Garrett v. City of Escondido in Escondido, California; and Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch in Farmers Branch, Texas.

More information on the ACLU’s work against local anti-immigrant ordinances can be found online at:

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