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Denv. U. L. Rev.


Obtaining comprehensive immigration reform is one of the most important legal issues facing the Latino community today. For the nation, virtually every family, business, and community is touched by immigration. In 2006, when millions marched for comprehensive immigration reform, prospects for federal action increased. During the summer of 2006, as the U.S. House failed to move forward to complete legislative action, frustrations by anti-immigrant activists led to a small number of cities and towns attempting to enact restrictions and prohibitions against illegal immigrants at the local level. These measures violate the Constitution, and pit neighbor against neighbor. Immigration policy must be established and enforced at the federal level, as local ordinances threaten to discriminate against all Latinos, citizen and newcomer alike. This Article describes some of the local ordinances that have been enacted across the country and their legal flaws, provides arguments that can be utilized against them, and gives an overview of the current legal challenges against these ordinances throughout the United States. Part I describes the origin of these anti-immigrant ordinances and the types of ordinances that were enacted in their wake, in particular the first local antiimmigrant ordinance passed in the United States in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Part II discusses the legal arguments against these types of ordinances, in particular federal preemption of local immigration laws and possible violations of the Fair Housing Act. Part III provides a brief overview of the litigation that has been brought against municipalities that have enacted local illegal immigration relief ordinances, and the current status of those cases. The Conclusion summarizes the article and looks forward to the next step in combating local anti-immigrant ordinances from a legal, policy, and litigation standpoint.