Del Rio-Mocci v. Connolly Properties Inc., et al
LatinoJustice PRLDEF helped Latino tenants in Plainfield, NJ win a major legal victory this past spring, when a Federal judge dismissed a civil racketeering (RICO) claim brought by a well-known anti-immigrant group against a private landlord, charging that its renting of apartments to Latino immigrants constituted “harboring.”
Attorneys from LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed an Amicus “friend of the court” brief in the case on behalf of the Latin American Coalition of Plainfield and local Latino residents and tenants in Plainfield.
The brief urged the court to dismiss the racketeering & harboring claim, which would otherwise have a chilling effect on Latinos' ability to secure housing.
There have been mounting tensions in Plainfield over its growing immigrant population, including a series of beatings and robberies targeting Latinos.
Judge William Martini in his decision found that no court has ever found that the mere renting of an apartment constitutes harboring.
Anti-immigrant groups have attempted to use the federal ‘harboring’ statute as a misguided weapon to enforce federal immigration laws by shifting immigration enforcement responsibilities to private landlords.
Plainfield is not the first locality to see a “harboring” case brought against a private landlord.In 2008, a Kentucky court ruled that there had to be sufficient evidence showing that a local landlord intended to violate immigration laws by concealing or hiding his tenants in order to be charged with harboring.