In July 2006, the City of Valley Park, Missouri enacted two anti-immigrant ordinances penalizing businesses and landlords for hiring or renting to undocumented persons. MALDEF and a coalition of attorneys successfully challenged the original ordinances and amended ordinances enacted during the litigation in Reynolds v. City of Valley Park, Missouri (Reynolds I). On March 12, 2007, the Honorable Barbara Wallace of the Missouri Circuit Court, County of St. Louis, ruled that the ordinances violated state law because the fines imposed by the City exceeded those permitted by state law. Judge Wallace permanently enjoined the City of Valley Park from enforcing the ordinances. In 2008, the City’s appeal of the Reynolds I decision was dismissed as moot by the Missouri Court of Appeals. Judge Wallace subsequently denied the City’s motion asking her to vacate her March 2007 ruling and injunction.

Shortly before Judge Wallace issued her March 2007 injunction against the City of Valley Park, the City enacted revised versions of the earlier ordinances. MALDEF, the ACLU, pro bono counsel from Jenner & Block and a coalition of attorneys again filed suit against the City, representing one of the plaintiffs in the original Reynolds litigation. After MALDEF filed the new suit, Gray v. City of Valley Park, Missouri, the City repealed the ordinance that attempted to impose penalties on landlords. The City also removed the new case from state court to federal court. Despite the Gray plaintiffs’ arguments that the remaining ordinance (penalizing businesses) was governed by the outcome in Reynolds I, Judge Richard E. Webber of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri issued a ruling in favor of the City. MALDEF, the ACLU and counsel filed a timely appeal of that decision, and in June and September 2008 filed briefs in support of their position.

MALDEF Sues Again To Block Valley Park Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

Local government already rebuffed by state court

March 13, 2007

ST. LOUIS, MO — The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has filed a petition today before the Circuit Court for the County of St. Louis, State of Missouri, challenging a new version of the recently defeated anti-immigrant ordinances in Valley Park, Missouri. MALDEF filed the petition jointly with the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, the law firm of Green Jacobson & Butsch, P.C., the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Immigrants’ Rights Project.

This week, State Court Judge Barbara W. Wallace ordered that the temporary restraining orders enjoining enforcement of Ordinance No. 1708 and Ordinance No. 1715 be made permanent. However, prior to Judge Wallace’s March 12th Order, the City of Valley Park had enacted new ordinances which related to the same subject matter. MALDEF has argued in the petition that the new Ordinances are also unlawful because they violate the Supremacy Clause and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the Fair Housing Act.

“It is apparent that there are those who will not be dissuaded from pursuing their goal of isolating and discriminating against immigrants who have long been part of this community’s growth and financial stability,” stated Ricardo Meza, MALDEF Midwest Regional Counsel. “We are committed to ending these local attacks on immigrants and renewing our call on the federal government to take action on comprehensive immigration reform so as to put an end to these local efforts all across the nation.”

“This is a nation of immigrants and the treatment of immigrants is an important matter that must be handled fairly and uniformly. Regulating immigration is a job for the federal government. Allowing any municipality to make its own rules will create patchwork of laws in which immigrants are treated differently from state to state and from town to town,” added Tony Rothert, Legal Director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.

MALDEF Applauds State Judge’s Decision to Block Two Valley Park Anti-Immigrant Ordinances

March 13, 2007

ST. LOUIS, MO — The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) strongly supports a state judge’s decision to permanently block two anti-immigration ordinances in Valley Park, Missouri. Last year, a coalition of private lawyers, law schools and civil rights organizations, including MALDEF, filed suit against the City on behalf of a group of residents, business owners, and a fair housing agency claiming that the ordinances violated federal law and fair housing protections.

“The ruling in this case should reinforce the message to other cities who have or are considering assuming the role and function of the federal government through anti-immigrant legislation, ‘It does not and will not work’”, stated MALDEF Regional Counsel, Ricardo Meza. Circuit Judge Barbara Wallace ruled the ordinances, which would have penalized businesses and landlords for hiring or renting to undocumented immigrants, were in violation of state law in that the fines were for amounts beyond those permitted and that they violated established landlord and tenant laws. The coalition partners also argued the ordinances resulted in racial profiling that was deterring Hispanics and other minorities from living in or doing business in Valley Park.

The coalition, led by local counsel Bryan Cave LLP, included MALDEF, Saint Louis University Legal Clinic, Washington University School of Law, Civil Rights & Community Justice Clinic, Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry, Jesus Ituarte at Schulte and Ituarte LLC, Anthony B. Ramirez at Anthony B. Ramirez P.C., Fernando Bermudez at Green Jacobson & Butsch P.C., the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Immigrants Rights Project.

Juez Concede La Petición De Orden De Restricción Temporal Contra Ordenanza En Ciudad De Valley Park

September 26, 2006

VALLEY PARK, MO — Ayer, una Juez del Circuito del Condado de St. Louis, la Honorable Sandra Hemphill, concedió un mandato para detener la Ciudad de Valley Park, Missouri en imponer una nueva orden dirigida a inmigrantes del municipio local.

Un grupo de propietarios de negocios, residentes y una agencia de vivienda justa presentaron una demanda el lunes, 24 de septiembre, desafiando la orden recién-aprobada dirigida contra inmigrantes. La orden criminaliza el acto de alquilar propiedad a o ‘ayudar y socorrer” inmigrantes ilegales, sin definir quienes son y sin proveer detalladamente los derechos y las responsabilidades de los propietarios, dueños de negocios, o los inmigrantes mismos. Los demandantes reclaman que la ley ha resultado en práctica del perfil racial lo cual esta desanimando a hispanos y otras minorías a vivir o hacer negocios en Valley Park, Missouri.

Los demandantes reclaman que la orden esta defectuosa por varias razones, incluyendo la premisa que la ley inmigratoria es asunto del Congreso y no de cada municipalidad a través del país. Valley Park copió una orden reciente de Hazelton, Pennsylvania, para aprobar esta ley. Hazelton recién enmendó la orden sobre la cual la ley de Valley Park se basó.

Court Documents

Order Granting Permanent TRO

Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order and Judgment

Appellants Reply Brief

Brief of Plaintiffs-Appellants