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Judicial Watch • SCOTUS To Hear Obama Employer Sanction Law Challenge

SCOTUS To Hear Obama Employer Sanction Law Challenge

SCOTUS To Hear Obama Employer Sanction Law Challenge

Judicial Watch

Although President Obama vowed to crack down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants, the administration will ask the Supreme Court this week to kill an Arizona measure—signed into law by former Governor Janet Napolitano—that punishes employers who hire undocumented workers.

Upheld by two federal courts, the Legal Arizona Workers Act requires companies to certify that employees are authorized to work in the U.S. by using a federal electronic database known as E-Verify to check the Social Security number and immigration status of new hires. Those caught hiring illegal workers are severely punished and can have their business license revoked.

When she signed the law in mid 2007, then-Governor Napolitano, Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary, said she did it “out of the realization that the flow of illegal immigration into our state is due to the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor.” Napolitano also took the opportunity to chastise the feds for not dealing with immigration issues and essentially sticking it to the states.

Now she will stand by as her boss works to defeat her measure by arguing that federal immigration law expressly preempts any state law imposing sanctions on employers hiring illegal immigrants. Arizona’s measure 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 several months ago.

So far the landmark measure has been upheld by a federal judge in Phoenix and the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that “the power to regulate the employment of unauthorized aliens remains within the states’ historic police powers.” Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan will sit this one out because, as Obama’s solicitor general last year, she asked the high court to consider the law’s challenge.

The Obama Administration is also fighting Arizona’s other immigration control law (SB 1070), which bans “sanctuary city” policies, makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documentation and requires police officers to stop and question anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. The administration argues that it too is unconstitutional because it illegally intrudes on the federal government’s duties to enforce immigration laws.

Judicial Watch is defending SB 1070 by representing its author, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, in the ongoing legal battle. Click here to read about Judicial Watch’s efforts on behalf of SB 1070 as well as its nationwide actions to combat regulations that undermine the country’s immigration laws.


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