Today, in a 3-0 decision, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld local ordinances enacted to discourage illegal immigration and protect business owners.
The case, Gray v. Valley Park, Missouri, involved a small suburb of St. Louis, which passed an ordinance requiring businesses to use a federal worker verification program known as E-Verify in order to maintain a business license. The law was challenged in court by a coalition assembled by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). Valley Park was represented against the ACLU and MALDEF attacks by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), lead by its senior counsel Kris Kobach.
In upholding the lower decision, the appellate court affirmed that:
Communities and local municipalities are within their rights to pass ordinances requiring businesses to sign up for E-verify on pain of losing their business licenses;
On appeal, having lost at the trial level, the ACLU attorneys were unable to show their plaintiffs had suffered no “injury in fact.”
In reviewing the facts, the appellate court was puzzled as to why the ACLU even brought the case and dismissed their second complaint with prejudice. Nor did the court understand why the ACLU claimed the ordinance pertains to the hiring of Hispanic workers, when in fact, said the court, the ordinance in question “addresses the employment of illegal aliens, not Hispanics.”
According to Mike Hethmon, IRLI General Counsel, “This is an important decision of nationwide significance. Once again Professor Kobach has helped a small town defend its integrity and values when Washington refused to do its job. The court held that local jurisdictions can and should enact ordinances that are consistent with the national desire to discourage illegal immigration,” he said. “The citizens should feel particularly justified that the court recognized the manipulative nature of the plaintiff’s strategy. We have been facing trumped up opposition from MALDEF and the ACLU in courts all over the country. This time they got caught in the act,” Hethmon concluded.