Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Valley Park: Still In Limbo

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2007 at 2:43 PM

Heard today that the immigration brouhaha in Valley Park continues.

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This, despite the fact that the St. Louis County Circuit Court in March voided the city's original ordinances punishing employers and landlords of hiring and housing allegedly illegal immigrants. And, in spite of a July ruling in a Pennsylvania federal court which declared unconstitutional nearly identical laws in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Those now-defunct laws were penned by the same author of Valley Park's ordinances, Kansas City lawyer Kris Kobach.

Here's the situation in Valley Park at the moment: The city is appealing the state court's decision. At the same time, landlord Jacqueline Gray, backed by the ACLU of Eastern Missouri and other attorneys, is in federal court challenging a second set of immigration ordinances passed by Valley Park.

On August 9, however, Gray asked a federal judge to put her case on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.

The same day, after Gray's lawyers submitted her request, the city of Valley Park called a Board of Aldermen meeting for only hours later that evening. At the session, attended by a reporter for the Suburban Journals but no Valley Park residents, the Board of Aldermen passed a vote to begin enforcing one of the ordinances, which requires employers to sign affidavits stating that they are not knowingly employing "illegal aliens" to perform work within the city. (Violators face suspension of their business licenses.)

Gray and ACLU cried foul and are now arguing that Valley Park violated Missouri's Sunshine Law by not giving 24 hours' notice for a public meeting.

The lawyers will most certainly go back and forth awhile more on the Sunshine Law argument. The whole shebang is set for a federal trial in October.

Meanwhile, Suburban Journals reporter Mary Shapiro, who doesn't seem to have written about the August 9 maneuver, did put out an interesting story last week about Valley Park's efforts to shut down a head shop.

-Kristen Hinman

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