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Judicial Watch • Obama Asks Supreme Court To Ax Ariz. Employer Sanction Law

Obama Asks Supreme Court To Ax Ariz. Employer Sanction Law

Obama Asks Supreme Court To Ax Ariz. Employer Sanction Law

JUNE 01, 2010

The Obama Administration has asked the Supreme Court to prohibit Arizona from enforcing a two-year-old measure—signed into law by former Governor Janet Napolitano—punishing businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

Ironically, President Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary ardently supported the law when she signed it in 2007 though she refuses to comment on her boss’s campaign to eliminate it. Considered the nation’s toughest measure against businesses that hire illegal aliens, the Legal Arizona Workers Act requires employers to verify that employees are authorized to work in the U.S. Those caught hiring illegal workers are severely punished and can have their license revoked.

Legally challenged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, the law has been repeatedly upheld by lower courts. Last week the Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court to toss out those rulings by preventing Arizona from enforcing the measure because federal immigration law expressly preempts any state law imposing sanctions on employers hiring illegal immigrants.

The Arizona law disrupts “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 not discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities legally in the country,” according to a brief filed by the administration.

The reality is however, that virtually no employers have been punished even though Arizona is estimated to have hundreds of thousands of illegal workers. A chunk of the money (about $5 million) allocated by the legislature for enforcement remains unspent in municipalities throughout the state and many county prosecutors complain that the law is virtually impossible to enforce because it doesn’t give local authorities charged with pursuing violators civil subpoena power to examine personnel records that could prove illegal aliens were knowingly hired.

Regardless, the law has achieved part of its goal because scores of illegal immigrants have fled to other states in the last few years or back to their Latin American homelands, according to a Texas newspaper report that says many have relocated in the Lone Star State. Parents have pulled their kids out of public schools, construction workers have abandoned their jobs and families have hastily moved out of apartments.

The Obama Administration is also preparing to fight another Arizona law—scheduled to take effect July 29—that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documentation. The measure (SB1070) also bans “sanctuary city” policies and requires local police to check the immigration status of all residents that have any encounters with law enforcement. Although the state measure was adopted from the federal statute, Obama claims it’s unconstitutional and racist.


 


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