Hazelton, Pa., filed an appeal last year after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court in Philadelphia ruled the city's laws against the housing and employment of undocumented immigrants were unconstitutional and unenforceable.
A similar appeal remains before the court regarding a challenge to case from the 8th Circuit, which upheld laws from Freemont, Neb., punishing landlords who rent to undocumented residents.
"The message is clear to municipalities, proceed at your peril," said Witold Walczak, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. "Nationally, I think the situation is a little bit muddier."
The Hazelton law was drafted and introduced in 2006 with the help of Kansas attorney Kris Kobach, who with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council, has been behind similar efforts across the country, including Arizona's infamous SB 1070 anti-immigration law. It required landlords and employers to check the immigration status of potential renters or employees before hiring or housing them.
"The 3rd Circuit is the only place where the court of appeals has said cities cannot penalize employers who hire illegal immigrants," Kobach said, surprised the Supreme Court would decline to hear the case. "The presumption was that the 3rd Circuit would at least have to rule in favor of the employment provision of Hazleton's law. But they didn't. The 3rd Circuit doubled down."