It appears that last month’s Supreme Court ruling upholding Arizona’s E-Verify law will precipitate a potent counteroffensive against the illegal immigration judicial defense industry.

In light of the Court’s 5-3 decision validating the right of state and local governments to impose penalties on employers who hire illegal aliens, the high court vitiated a ruling against a similar ordinance passed by government officials in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

In 2006, following a sharp spike in violent crime perpetrated by illegal aliens, Mayor Lou Barletta (now a Republican congressman) signed an ordinance prohibiting landlords from renting to illegals and employers from hiring them. Under the Hazleton Immigration Relief Act, renters and employers who failed to verify the immigration status of renters and employees would face fines or suspension of business and rental licenses. This law was the impetus for dozens of subsequent efforts by states and municipalities to curb their growing illegal immigration problem.

Hazleton was challenged with well funded legal action by an unholy alliance of the ACLU, special interest legal defense groups, and the Chamber of Commerce. In 2007, the law was struck down by a federal district judge on the premise that the law was preempted by federal immigration law (Hazleton v. Lozano (10-772)). Last September, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s preemption argument against Hazleton. Today, the Supreme Court voided the Appellate Court’s ruling and remanded the case to the Philadelphia-based court for further review.

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