Montana Justices Shut Down Migration Law

Montana Justices Shut Down Migration Law

The en banc Montana Supreme Court overruled a voter-approved provision that denied state services like welfare and student financial assistance to unlawful immigrants.

House Bill 638, which rejected certain state-funded services to people considered “illegal aliens,” was enacted through a legal referendum called LR 121, which passed in 2012 after 80 percent of Montana voters approved it.


On May 10, the Montana Supreme Court issued a 31-page opinion verifying a Lewis and Clark County judge’s 2014 choice, which disallowed the state “from utilizing an individual’s illegal entry into the United States as a factor in identifying that individual’s entitlement to state benefits.”

The latest ruling not just allows prohibited immigrants to have access to such services, but likewise took the case an action further than the lower court did, throwing out the expense’s compulsory reporting requirement that would force employers to kip down prohibited immigrant workers.

While the lower court maintained that element of the law, the Montana Supreme Court discovered that federal law preempted such a step because state authorities were still given the opportunity to report such staff members without the bill.

” This holding does not forbid state officials from interacting with the federal government about an individual’s migration status, since state authorities are entitled to do so absent LR 121,” Justice Patricia Cotter composed for the complete court.

The underlying claim was submitted in 2012 by the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance, on behalf of a number of complainants. They argued that lots of workers who went into the nation unlawfully have since gotten legal status, however under LR 121, they would still be considered “illegal aliens” in spite of their existing legal documents.immigration_law_week_header

In the state high court opinion, Cotter stated that the legislation was “infected” with an unconstitutional definition of the term “illegal alien.” The bill defined “prohibited alien” as “an individual who is not a citizen of the United States and who has actually unlawfully entered or continues to be unlawfully in the United States.”

” LR 121 was meant to force ‘unlawful aliens … to leave Montana rather than use our services and take our tasks.’ The meaning of ‘prohibited alien’ is an important part of the law; certainly, the law would serve no function if the definition of ‘unlawful alien’ were removed,” Cotter wrote. “The whole statute is preempted by federal law.”

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