The first of many court appearances for immigration reform is coming before the nation’s highest court, the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit to appear first is the 2007 Arizona law penalizing employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. The Obama administration asked the court to review the Arizona employment law and has indicated it will sue to block enforcement of the state's broader immigration law, scheduled to take effect July 29.
The issue of this suit varies somewhat from the main issue of immigration enforcement, but both center on the extent of a state's authority to enforce immigration-related laws without infringing on exclusive federal power. Laws similar to the 2007 Arizona law are in effect in 5 states, requiring employers to determine their workers' immigration status through a federal database. Employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants face a license suspension for the first offense, and revocation if there is a second offense.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco last year affirmed the law as an exercise of a state's traditional power to regulate businesses, and noted that federal law allows states to use regulations against employers of illegal immigrants. Obama’s administration challenges that the Arizona law is a hiring ban, not a licensing law, and uses such action solely as a means of punishment. The Justice Department lawyers and opponents of Arizona's new Immigration law argue that the law is broader than federal law and violates the federal government's sole authority to regulate immigration.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union requested and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Monday and is due to issue a ruling by the end of June 2011. The case is Chamber of Commerce vs. Candelaria, 09-115.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Friday asked the federal court to dismiss 5 lawsuits filed that challenge the new law. They generally argue that Arizona's law will lead to racial profiling and that it is the federal government's responsibility to regulate immigration.