Huntsville’s Proposed Immigration Ordinance

It would, among other things, deny business permits to any business that hires an illegal – whether knowingly or not; prohibit illegals from leasing or renting property; and fine anyone who rents to an illegal – whether knowingly or not -$500 a day. The council considered it last week, and decided to take some time to further study the issue.

The first question I want answered is where did this proposed ordinance originate? Is it the result of the Huntsville city council’s own independent research? Or did they cut and paste it from some anti-illegal immigrant web site? I ask that because Hazelton, Pennsylvania recently passed the exact same ordinance. Not just exactly the same in substance; exactly the same in language. Here is Huntsville’s. Here is Hazelton‘s.

You could look long and hard and not find two cities as different as Huntsville and Hazelton. Hazelton is a coal town. Huntsville makes space ships. The average Hazelton resident maybe has an eighth grade education. Huntsville probably has one of the best educated populations in the country. Huntsville is much bigger and wealthier than Hazelton. Not to mention one is in Pennsylvania and one is in Alabama.

Yet they are having the exact same problem with illegal immigrants and decided on the exact same solution. Both of them try to justify the restrictions by beginning with this statement of factual “findings:”

That illegal immigration leads to higher crime rates, contributes to overcrowded classrooms and failing schools, subjects our hospitals to fiscal hardship and legal residents to substandard quality of care, contributes to other burdens on public services, increasing their cost and diminishing their availability to lawful residents, and destroys our neighborhoods and diminishes our overall quality of life.  

Now, my question is whether these “findings” are the result of empirical research, or else fancied up intuitions and feelings based on personal anecdotes and news stories. Because these two cities are very different, yet the findings are the same, I seriously suspect the latter. Which is more likely: The city council in Huntsville, Alabama, and the city council in Hazelton, Pennsylvania each independently studied and researched the empirical impact of illegal immigrants on their two very different cities and came to the exact same conclusion? Or is there a third party going around the country peddling anti-immigrant ordinances, complete with a list of one size fits all prejudices?

Whatever the answer may be, Huntsville may want to wait until the lawsuit over the Hazelton ordinance is resolved before they enact their own. The ACLU and several other groups are suing Hazelton on behalf of people like this:

The groups filed the lawsuit on behalf of 11 Hazleton residents and business owners as well as three non-profits. Plaintiffs include a lifelong Pennsylvanian and U.S. citizen who moved with her husband to Hazleton and opened a small business using her family’s life savings. The business was doing well and the couple became foster parents intent on adopting. Since the passage of the ordinance her business has been cut in half and she can no longer pay the bills. The family has been verbally abused with anti-Latino epithets and is contemplating moving from the area.

Now I know the ACLU hates America/God/Apple Pie/Puppies, (even though they do things like fight to ensure church groups can feed the homeless) but that has nothing to do with the merits of this lawsuit, which sound pretty strong. The basic claim is that the Constitution gives the Federal government exclusive control over immigration. The ordinance, in effect, is an attempt to regulate immigration. The ordinance, therefore, infringes on an area of exclusive federal control and is unconstitutional.

The ACLU gave Hazelton every opportunity to avoid the suit. But Hazelton pushed forward. The result is probably going to be a huge financial cost for a city without much money to spare. Wasting money in order to to score political points; that sounds like the definition or irresponsible leadership. Maybe there ought to be an ordinance against that.

Thankfully, it sounds like Huntsville has a better lawyer than did Hazelton:

City Attorney Peter Joffrion told the City Council last week Watson’s ordinance, as introduced, has legal problems because of overriding federal laws on immigration.

Hopefully the city will follow his advice and thereby save themselves a lot of needless trouble and expense.

Explore posts in the same categories: Immigration, Trials

3 Comments on “Huntsville’s Proposed Immigration Ordinance”

  1. Arduous Says:

    Do you think the following case decribed in this link would indicate that local and state govs have the ability to enforce laws involving illegal immigrants?
    The legislature relied on a 1976 US Supreme Court decision, De Canas v. Bica, concerning the state control of immigration. Perhaps our city attorney was incorrect in assuming that immigration was strictly a federal jurisdiction.

  2. Wheeler Says:


    what it means is that laws that incidentally relate to immigrants may be o.k. laws like the one proposed in huntsville – whose primary goal is regulating immigration – are highly suspect.

    the attorney gave the right advice. if they passed that ordinance there was a very good chance they would lose in court, costing the city thousands of dollars in the process.

  3. […] Back in August I posted about Huntsville’s attempt to preserve and protect our white culture and heritage regulate illegal i…: [The proposed ordinance] would, among other things, deny business permits to any business that […]

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