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Court Tosses RICO Claims Over Immigrant Hiring

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The 9th Circuit threw out a racketeering lawsuit that Canyon County, Idaho, brought against companies that hire illegal immigrants, accusing them of operating an "illegal immigration scheme."

The court unanimously rejected the county's claim that four companies and the executive director of the Idaho Migrant Council violated the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act by knowingly employing or harboring undocumented workers.

Canyon County claims it has been forced to pay "millions of dollars for health-care services and criminal justice services for the illegal immigrants."

The appeals court ruled that the county lacks standing to bring federal RICO claims because it failed to claim injury to business or property, and was unable to show that the strain on county health care and law enforcement was caused by the defendants' hiring of undocumented workers. The judges cited other potential causes, such as changes in demographics, criminal laws, public health practices and unemployment.

The court added that any effort to evaluate the full impact of the employment of illegal immigrants on county spending would be an "intricate, uncertain" inquiry.

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