U.S. Supreme Court Legitimizes 2007 Arizona Immigration Law and E-Verify

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In a 5-3 vote on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona Immigration Law called the Legal Arizona Workers Act, passed in 2007 that allows the state to punish businesses that hire illegal aliens, citing compliance and rights under a 1986 federal immigration reform measure.

In the ruling, the court maintained that federal immigration law does not prevent or deny the state of Arizona from suspending or revoking licenses to companies that hire or employ illegal aliens.

The original legislation, identified as HB 2779, was sponsored in 2007 by then-Representative Russell Pearce, now Arizona Senate President. He reflected on Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling by stating, “Arizona was the first state in the country to enact legislation to prevent illegal aliens from working. Now, the highest court in the land has given its legal authority to this law. Arizonians should be proud.”

Clarifying Support for the Arizona Immigration Law
Pearce emphasized the importance to understand former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano’s position on the Immigration Law and related legislation as he stated, “Make no mistake, Governor Napolitano did NOT support this legislation, and serving in the Obama administration, she has been fighting us ALL ALONG THE WAY. Now that a huge majority of Arizonians are behind this, she is trying to rewrite history, and suggest she is a strong supporter. We know the truth.”

As one of the ruling justices on the bill, Chief Justice John Roberts communicated his position by stating that the Arizona Immigration Law “falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states.” He added, “Arizona went the extra mile in ensuring that its law tracks (the federal law’s) provisions in all material aspects.”

When the case was originally argued, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer stated, “The bottom line is that we believe that if the (federal) government isn’t going to do the job, then Arizona is going to do the job. We are faced with a crisis.”

In speaking about the relevance of this Supreme Court ruling to other Arizona legislation aimed at illegal immigration, Senate President Russell Pearce summed it up by stating, “That is an important statement. That sends a pretty clear signal to me that we are headed for U.S. Supreme Court support for SB 1070 as well.” He continued his thoughts by stating, “This is a HUGE victory for America and the American worker. It is a defeat for the open borders, profits-over-patriotism crowd.” He boldly summarized, “It is a death penalty for employers who continue to hire illegals and displace American workers.”

The Supreme Court heard and rejected Arguments opposing the Arizona law by the Chamber of Commerce, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and a coalition of business and civil rights groups, which contended that the Arizona law conflicts with federal immigration policy that could lead to race discrimination.

Chief Justice John Roberts emphasized that the Arizona law focuses on “knowing or intentional violations” by businesses hiring illegal aliens and that the ability to impose sanctions by the state of Arizona on businesses by suspending or revoking their licenses come into play only after a second violation has been documented. He continued by stating, “An employer acting in good faith need have no fear of the sanctions.”

The court in Chamber also ruled to uphold an Arizona provision that required all employers in the state to utilize a federal electronic verification (e-Verify) system to authenticate workers authorized to accept jobs.

Arizona has been at the forefront of efforts on a national level to address the infusion of illegal immigrants and workers into the United States by drafting legislation to curtail the influx of illegal aliens into the United States. Other states working to pass similar legislation include Colorado, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

The three Supreme Court Justices that dissented the ruling include Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case because of her past involvement with it while she served as US Solicitor General.

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Image credit: Wikipedia

You can reach Michael Cerkas via email at mcerkas@gmail.com

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