Last year, Hazleton, a city in Pennsylvania, passed a law that revokes the business license of any employer who hires undocumented immigrants and imposes a $1,000-per-day fine on landlords who rent to them. Since then, similar ordinances have been proposed all across the county in cities like Carpentersville, Illinois with growing immigrant populations. Last week, a U.S. district judge ruled that the Hazleton ordinance overstepped its authority on a federal issue.
Adding to the controversy,is a federal program that allows local law enforcement to deport immigrants – documented or undocumented – who had been convicted of serious crimes. A couple weeks ago, Waukegan, a suburb of Chicago, decided to apply for the federal immigration program.
Riding the recent tide of anti-immigration angst, local leaders have been working to pass laws in an effort to push out immigrants who still have limited political power. Anti-immigrant groups contend that the Federal government is not doing its job so they have been pressuring city and state bodies to act. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that in the first four months of this year state lawmakers had introduced at least 1,169 bills and resolutions related to immigration — compared with 570 bills introduced last year. Should local governments participate in setting and enforcing immigration policy? Should states and cities have the right to execute their own laws concerning immigration? Should landlords and businesses be responsible for policing the status of who they engage with?
Immigrant right groups contend that many of these proposals deny their right to due process and encourage discrimination. Does participation in these programs encourage racial profiling by law enforcement, local businesses and everyday community members? Should undocumented immigrants have Constitutional protections?
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.