Published: Sep 09, 2010 5:03 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 09, 2010 2:03 PM EDT

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A federal appeals court has largely upheld a ruling that Hazleton, Pa., may not enforce its crackdown on illegal immigrants.

The decision Thursday by an appeals court deals a blow to regulations that inspired copycat measures around the nation, including Arizona.

The northeastern Pennsylvania city had sought to deny business permits to companies that employ illegal immigrants, fine landlords who rent to them and require legal tenants to register and pay for a rental permit.

Hispanic groups and illegal immigrants had sued to overturn the laws, saying they usurped the federal government's exclusive power to regulate immigration. The laws were never enforced.