Monday, December 06, 2010

Supreme Court To Rule On Landmark Immigration Law

Back in 2007, the State of Arizona passed the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which mandates stiff penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens, and requires them to check the federal government's E-Verify database to make sure their new hires are authorized to work in the United States.

It was signed into law by then-Governor Janet Napolitano, who's now President Obama's head of the Department of Homeland Security, which administers immigrations laws and E-Verify.

At the time, she said it would impose the "business death penalty" on employers caught a second time hiring illegal workers, and blamed "the flow of illegal immigration into our state … [on] the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor."

For that matter, even President Obama, when he was a candidate, called for a crackdown on employers who hired 'undocumented workers'.

Ah, but that was then, and this is now.

The Obama Administration is arguing before the Supreme Court to have the Legal Arizona Workers Act repealed as unconstitutional because it conflicts with The Fed's exclusive control over immigration enforcement.

However, a federal judge in Phoenix with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law. "The power to regulate the employment of unauthorized aliens remains within the states' historic police powers," wrote 9th Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder.

So the Supreme Court will rule on the states versus feds conflict on immigration for the first time in over 3o years.

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act made it illegal for employers to hire "an unauthorized alien", but also added a provision that "preempts any state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ … unauthorized aliens."

The State of Arizona is arguing that the law should be upheld because it was a "licensing" measure. Employers who are convicted twice of knowingly hiring illegal workers can lose their licenses to do business.

This is going to be an historic ruling, simply because there are so many similar pending laws nationwide on the matter. If the State of Arizona wins, there are going to be a lot of states and even cities and counties who will likely go forward with similar measures.It will also undermine the chief argument the Obama Administration has against th eother Arizona Immigration law, SB1070.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was the U.S. solicitor general last year and argued in favor of repeal on the Arizona law before the court last year. She has quite correctly recused herself from ruling on the current case, which is Chamber of Commerce vs. Whiting.

That means a tough haul for the plaintiffs. They will need to convince five out of eight justices to knock down the Arizona law.

(via memeorandum)

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