Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Supreme Court May Take on Arizona Immigration Law

A number of Arizona business groups have been trying to get a controversial employer-sanctions law thrown out for the past two years, and now their struggle has been noticed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law punishes companies for hiring undocumented immigrants and requires all Arizona businesses to use the federal e-verify system to determine the legal status of employees. So far, two lower courts have upheld the law but a coalition of businesses, immigrant rights advocates and civil rights groups believe that the law is unconstitutional.

On Monday, the Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to give their take on the issue before deciding if they will take the case. This request was seen as a good sign to opponents of the law; they believe it shows that the High Court sees this law as having implications beyond Arizona – especially considering that a number of other states have modeled similar legislation after Arizona’s law.

“At the end of the day, we still feel that immigration lies at the federal level,” said Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We have this crazy quilt of state and local laws, and we believe this is better left to the federal government, and we certainly see this as an encouraging sign that the Supreme Court will consider the case and make it clear that immigration is a federal matter.”

Arizona Solicitor General Mary O’Grady issued a brief arguing against the Supreme Court taking the case; she believes not “every dispute about a state or local measure regarding illegal immigrants merits this court’s review.” She continued, explaining that Arizona’s sanction does not impose any new obligations, rather it “merely establishes state sanctions for that illegal conduct, as Congress specifically permits states to do. . . . In addition, Arizona’s E-Verify provision simply requires Arizona employers to participate in a congressionally authorized federal program that is already available nationwide.”

The law in question allows the state’s attorney general and county attorneys to file civil complaints against employers who may have “knowingly or intentionally” hired illegal workers. However, in the two years since its inception, not a single complaint has been filed against any employer in the state.

Per the request of the Supreme Court justices, Elena Kagan, Obama’s solicitor general, will submit a brief outlining the administration’s views and the justices plan to review the brief before deciding if they will take the case.

Understandably, this is a touchy issue for the Obama administration. While on the campaign trail, then-candidate Barack Obama said he believed the proliferation of state immigration laws “underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform so local communities do not continue to take matters into their own hands.”

The Arizona law was signed into effect by Obama’s secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and former Arizona governor, Janet Napolitano.

The Arizona Republic