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Riverside Coalition of Business Persons and Landlords v. Township of Riverside

Last Update: September 17, 2007

What's at Stake

The “Riverside Township Illegal Immigration Relief Act” attempted to ban undocumented immigrants from renting, residing, using property or being employed in the New Jersey town.

The ordinance, in very vague, broad terms, would have applied to actions that “aid or abet” undocumented immigrants anywhere in the United States, and would have imposed $1,000 fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and bans employers from hiring them.

A coalition of Riverside business owners, landlords, and residents, represented by the ACLU of New Jersey, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, ACLU cooperating attorney James Katz of Spear Wilderman, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, People For the American Way Foundation, and Rangonese, Albano & Viola, filed suit against the ordinance in New Jersey state court. The suit contended that the ordinance went far beyond the authority of Riverside under state law, and would require landlords and business owners to take unreasonable and expensive measures and possibly invade the privacy of their clients in order to comply.

On August 23, 2007, the Riverside Township Committee approved the first reading of a bill that would rescind the ordinance, citing a number of factors including the Hazleton ordinance’s defeat in federal court. On September 17, 2007, after the bill’s second reading, Riverside’s ordinance was nullified.

Although it was not implemented and was ultimately repealed, the ordinance had a profound impact on the town: one-third of Riverside’s immigrant population moved away, causing some businesses to close, while others saw sales decline by as much as 50 percent.

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