An obscure federal trial in Pennsylvania may have a big impact on the Immigration Reform debate. Reuters reports that “a U.S. judge on Thursday struck down as unconstitutional a local law designed to crack down on illegal immigration, dealing a blow to similar laws passed by dozens of towns and cities across the country. U.S. District Judge James Munley said the city of Hazleton, 100 miles north of Philadelphia, was not allowed to implement a law that would fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants and penalize landlords who rent rooms to them.”
The blogger at Digger’s Realm who has been following the trial closely is struck by the judge’s insistence that “even if federal law did not conflict with Hazleton’s measures, the city could not enact an ordinance that violates rights the Constitution guarantees to every person in the United States, whether legal resident or not.”
“So the ruling seems not to state that the ordinance conflicts with federal immigration laws, but that the judge interprets the Constitution to include rights to illegal aliens,” writes Digger. “This is flawed logic in my opinion because illegal aliens have not sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is not a human rights document as US District Judge James Munley seems to think, but is the rule of law in this land. As illegal aliens are breaking the law they should be held accountable. If it takes a local jurisdiction to do so - and uphold the Constitution - then so be it.”
James Joyner at Outside the Beltway sympathizes, but doesn’t think the judge was out of line: “This one was a no-brainer and, unless they had no brains, Hazleton’s politicians damned well knew it. One understands the frustrations of local officials, who have to bear the brunt over the inability or unwillingness of the federal government to enforce our immigration laws. Still, they obviously don’t have jurisdiction.”
Unsurprisingly, Michelle Malkin knows whom to blame: “Munley is a Clinton appointee.” Some reflexes, apparently, never get unlearned.
Good to know, but it’s hardly the end of the story. TNR’s editors say they “have decided to go back and, to the extent possible, re-report every detail” of Thomas/Beauchamp’s dispatches.