Hazleton, Pennsylvania, is a lovely little town (or so Lat tells me — his aunt used to live there). But it’s not bigger than the federal government or the Constitution of the United States of America.
That’s the lesson the Third Circuit handed down today with its decision in the Lozano v. Hazleton case. At issue: Hazleton city ordinances making it illegal for undocumented immigrants to work or even rent a house in Hazleton.
Apparently, the Third Circuit still believes in federal supremacy. From the opinion:
Although our reasoning differs from that of the district court, we agree that the provisions of the ordinances which we have jurisdiction to review are pre-empted by federal immigration law and unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause.
Did you hear that, Arizona? Your quixotic quest to deal with illegal immigrants without consulting the Constitution is almost over…
Obviously, the Third Circuit is well aware that they have jurisdiction over small towns in Pennsylvania, not crazy governors in Arizona. But skimming the 188-page opinion unearths a couple of lines that seem directed at the larger national debate about state-by-state immigration laws:
As we noted at the outset, state and local attempts to regulate issues related to immigration have skyrocketed in recent years… Various challenges have been leveled at these enactments – most commonly, attacks rooted in the Supremacy Clause – and the resulting body of case law informs our analysis.
The decision is just one of many shots across the bow at Arizona and all the states and towns (and politicians) who want to live in a world where the rights of immigrants vary wildly depending on which rest stop they use off of I-70.
But the Third Circuit can only deal with Hazleton. Clearly, this immigration debate is destined for the Supreme Court.
Lozano v. Hazleton [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit]