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When illegal migrants flood a city

A judge tells one city to let the feds handle immigration. But where are the feds when you need them?

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A telling irony shines through last week's ruling by a federal judge that found only Congress can set immigration law. The judge knew full well that half the plaintiffs in the case were in the US illegally. But he let them challenge a city ordinance on immigration anyway – and anonymously.

And so it's been in America for too long: Turn a blind eye to the massive lawbreaking of an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

Imagine if a scofflaw wanted by the FBI had sued a city for enacting a criminal law tougher than a federal law. Would that person also be given a day in court?

No way. The difference, of course, is that FBI agents are vigilant in catching suspects. But federal immigration agents? Well, they do their best whenever Congress or the White House gives them a clear green light and enough resources. After all, for politicians, those millions of illegal immigrants are potential voters for whichever party gets the credit in winning them amnesty someday.

But back to the court decision itself: Should state and local governments be allowed to enact laws that penalize landlords or companies that do business with illegal immigrants and fail to check their US residency status?

In a 1986 law, Congress clearly said no, despite a long precedent in the 19th century of states regulating immigrants coming into the US. The Pennsylvania city of Hazelton, however, passed such a law and then lost the first round in the courtroom of US District Judge James Munley. The judge even postulated that perhaps the federal government does not seek "the removal of all aliens who lack legal status."

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