Idaho Suit Over Illegal Immigration Tossed

Rebecca Boone, AP, Dec. 14, 2005

BOISE, Idaho—A federal judge on Wednesday tossed out a southwest Idaho county’s lawsuit against local employers accused of hiring illegal immigrants—an attempt to recoup money the county says it has spent on the workers.

The judge said Canyon County’s claimed higher expenses for social services such as indigent medical care, schools and jails were simply the costs of being a government entity. The judge dismissed the case with prejudice, which means it cannot be refiled.

The lawsuit marked the first time a government tried to use the federal Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act to demand damages from businesses for the costs of allegedly illegal employees.

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In dismissing the case, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said the county’s contention that the hiring of illegal aliens posed a “public nuisance” was not grounded in state law.

In addition, as a plaintiff in the RICO action, the county was not acting in a governmental capacity but as a private party to a civil lawsuit, Lodge wrote.

“Instead, by its own admission, it is asserting ‘claims for the costs of municipal services,’“ Lodge wrote. “This type of ‘general injury’ to a county’s ‘ability to carry out its functions’ is not an injury to ‘business or property.’ Therefore, Canyon County does not have standing to bring this action.”

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