(CN) – A Missouri city ordinance barring employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants survived a challenge in the 8th Circuit. The federal appeals court in St. Louis upheld a ruling for Valley Park, Mo., in a legal dispute over the validity of the ordinance.
Jacqueline Gray, owner of Windhover Inc., and a group of employers filed suit in 2006, seeking to enjoin the city from enforcing the employment ordinances.
In February 2007, the city effectively repealed the ordinances and replaced them with two ordinances barring employers from hiring illegal immigrants or harboring them in rental units.
The case nonetheless proceeded in state court, which enjoined enforcement of the then-repealed ordinances.
The city appealed, and the state appeals court dismissed the case as moot.
In March, the plaintiffs filed a second lawsuit challenging the replacement ordinances, only one of which hasn’t been repealed. The remaining ordinance bans employers from knowingly hiring illegal aliens.
After the district court ruled for the city, the plaintiffs switched tactics and argued that the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction, because the ordinance is not enforceable against them and never was.
The city argued that this sudden change of course was a “keen, brazen” strategy to covertly vacate the district court’s decision.
However, the 8th Circuit noted that the city also apparently contradicted its arguments on appeal. “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones,” Judge Beam admonished in a footnote.
The court concluded that the plaintiffs have standing, and that the state court’s injunction did not preclude the district court’s ruling.
“The ordinance is directly targeted at business entities such as appellants who recruit and hire employees,” Beam wrote. “Appellants have an interest of their own to defend.”