Thursday, October 24, 2019

Supreme Court to Hear Case over Immigration Law in Arizona

A challenge to a punitive law in Arizona against employers that knowingly hire undocumented workers will be heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law, called the Legal Arizona Worker’s Act, is being challenged by an array of business and advocacy groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Immigration Law Center and the Mexican Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).  In their lawsuit against the state of Arizona the groups argue that the law is unconstitutional since it conflicts with federal immigration law.

The case is a rare instance of putting big business and civil rights groups on the same side.

“American businesses are overwhelmed by the cacophony of complex and often conflicting state and local immigration regulations” Robin Conrad, of the Chamber of Commerce, said.  “The confusing patchwork of immigration regulations doesn’t solve our immigration problems, and instead makes it more difficult for employers to create jobs and grow the economy.”

The United State Justice Department also supported this stance and filed a brief in support of the groups.

“Those provisions,” writes Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, “disrupt a careful balance that Congress struck nearly 25 years ago between two interests of the highest importance: ensuring that employers do not undermine enforcement of immigration laws by hiring unauthorized workers, while also ensuring that employers do not discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities legally in the country.”

The legislation, which was passed in 2007, directly conflicts with federal law since it forces employers to check the immigration status of potential employees through a federal database called the E-Verify program.  Participation in this program is strictly voluntary under federal law.

In their defense, the state is arguing that federal law should not take precedence.  “Although the federal government is responsible for regulating immigration, there remains room for State legislation that touches on immigration issues.”

Both sides of the immigration debate are following this case closely as it could signal the outcome of the challenge to Arizona’s other anti-immigrant law SB 1070.  As reported in La Plaza, the most controversial parts of that law, including questioning the legal status of persons detained, were put on hold by a federal judge in July.

ABC News