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Security Newswire

US Supreme Court Upholds Arizona E-Verify Law

May 28, 2011
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The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Arizona’s law requiring mandatory use of the federal E-Verify system for employers hiring new workers. In a decision released May 26, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to uphold Arizona’s immigration law.

The law allows Arizona to revoke business licenses of employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

In addition, the decision said Arizona’s E-Verify mandate is not preempted by federal law. E-Verify is a federal Web-based system for checking the eligibility status of workers.

“The fact that the federal government may require the use of E-Verify in only limited circumstances says nothing about what the States may do,” the Supreme Court decision said.

Writing for the majority opinion in the case, Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, Chief Justice John Roberts said, "Arizona's licensing law falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the States and therefore is not expressly preempted."

A group of challengers, including the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argued the law was unconstitutional, infringed on the power of the federal government to enforce immigration laws, and violated civil rights.

At issue was whether the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) preempted the state law's authority to revoke the license of a business that knowingly hired illegal immigrants.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer hailed the decision of the Supreme Court in support of her state's law.

"I could not be more gratified by today's decision by the US Supreme Court to uphold the legality of the Legal Arizona Workers Act and the principle of federalism, more generally," Brewer said in a statement.

"Despite the Obama administration's opposition at the US Supreme Court, Arizona and all states are now free to take down the 'Help Wanted' sign for illegal aliens in their states," she added. "Arizona's employer sanctions law allows the vast majority of businesses that want to play by the rules to comply with federal and state laws against hiring illegal aliens, and seeks to punish those employers who take advantage of the federal government's immigration failures. One result of the Legal Arizona Workers Act: Arizona employers now lead the nation in the use of the federal E-Verify system for determining the legal status of new employees."


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