United States Supreme Court building
The Supreme Court has upheld a 2007 Arizona law that shuts down businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

An Arizona bill targeting businesses that hire illegal immigrants has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Under the new law, businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants can have their business licenses taken from them by the Arizona government. The law is separate from the controversial illegal immigration law passed in Arizona last year.

Justices say state law does not interfere with federal

The Supreme Court has upheld a controversial law passed in 2007 by the state of Arizona that many people have claimed interferes with federal law concerning illegal immigration. The law, according to CNN, targets businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Any business that does so can have its business license taken away. The law was originally passed in 2007, but it went through a series of court challenges before arriving on the Supreme Court’s docket. The law was upheld 5 to 3, and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion. The objection that the law interferes with federal guidelines on dealing with illegal immigrants was dismissed by Justice Roberts, who noted that the law requires employers to check the federal government’s E-Verify system.

Employers should be above state law, says Obama administration

The Obama administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are both opposed to the law because employers are not supposed to be subject to any civil or criminal penalties imposed by states, according to the Los Angeles Times. The high court disagreed. However, the dissenting minority pointed out that the federal E-Verify system is voluntarily participated in, but the Arizona law, called the Legal Arizona Workers Act, makes it mandatory.  The law was passed, according to Reuters, after Congressional attempts at overhauling federal illegal immigration laws failed in 2007. The most recent addition to the Supreme Court bench, Elena Kagan, recused herself from the case as she was Solicitor General when the law was challenged by the federal government in federal court.

Arizona immigration law continues to be controversial

Arizona has been at the epicenter of crackdowns on illegal immigration and tensions between states and the federal government. There is still a looming court battle over the controversial law passed last year, Arizona SB 1070, which gives law enforcement officials far wider powers in dealing with suspected illegal immigrants, which civil rights and immigration rights activists claim makes it legal and easy for police officers to abuse legal citizens because of their race or appearance. The law is awaiting a Supreme Court decision after being shut down by a federal court and appeals court. Several copycat laws were introduced in other states, according to the Arizona Republic, but success has been limited. Many states have been frustrated by limited results in the federal arena in dealing with illegal immigration. It is estimate that up to 11 million people are in the United States illegally.

Sources

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/05/26/scotus.arizona.law/index.html?hpt=T2

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/26/us-usa-immigration-court-idUSTRE74P4C720110526

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/sc-dc-court-immigration-ruling-20110526,0,1490104.story

Arizona Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/05/25/20110525wed1-25.html

 

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