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Supreme Court upholds 2007 Arizona immigration enforcement law; eVerify; losing: US Chamber, DOJ, Berman, NCLR, ADL, SPLC, AILA, SEIU, LULAC

In a major victory for states that want to reduce illegal immigration, the US Supreme Court has upheld Arizona's 2007 "Legal Arizona Workers Act" employer enforcement law that requires the use of eVerify and that allows Arizona to pull the business licenses of companies that knowingly hire illegal aliens. Note that the 2007 law and the decision have no relation to Arizona's more recent immigration law. A Los Angeles Times article is here, and links to legal documents are here. Sonia Sotomayor voted in dissent; see her name's link.

Those who opposed Arizona's law in court and who lost today include the Obama administration's Department of Justice (see Obama immigration) and the US Chamber of Commerce (see their name and this).

Others who filed briefs in the case and who lost today include (see each link for more on that group):

* Rep. Howard Berman
* National Council of La Raza
* Anti Defamation League
* American Immigration Lawyers Association
* PRLDEF (a former associated group of Sotomayor)
* Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (a former associated group of Barack Obama)
* Southern Poverty Law Center
* Service Employees International Union
* National Day Laborer Organizing Network(NDLON)
* National Immigrant Justice Center
* American Immigration Council
* Asian American Justice Center
* Asian American Institute
* Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
* Asian Law Caucus
* Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California
* League of United Latin American Citizens
* Legal Aid Society
* Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association
* National Employment Law Project

Others on the losing side were former senator Arlen Specter and Ron Mazzoli (of the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli amnesty fame).

UPDATE: Thomas Saenz of MALDEF (which doesn't appear to have been involved in the suit) weighs in. He got one thing right: just because the 2007 law was upheld doesn't mean SB 1070 will prevail. In my opinion, states should just simply copy Arizona's 2007 law for now.

In any case, here's what Saenz says (maldef.org/news/releases/az_evrfy):

"Today's regrettable decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting is a tortured product of judicial activism responding to perceived political views of the moment. The majority proclaims itself unable to find implied preemption of an Arizona law that plainly impedes a federal scheme of exclusive enforcement of longstanding immigration-related employment law, and then, with a facile shift, easily finds an implied permission for Arizona to mandate E-verify, a power that Congress denied the federal government itself. All of this is accomplished through providing talismanic significance to the word 'licensing' even though Arizona's use of the term violates any plain-language or historical understanding of the term."

"Despite this egregious outcome, today's decision provides little predictive value as to the constitutional issue of preemption with respect to Arizona's SB 1070 and similar laws recently enacted in other states. Laws that encroach on exclusive federal immigration enforcement by mandating or permitting untrained local police officers to engage in racial profiling will find little refuge in today's decision. Wise state and local lawmakers must continue to tread carefully in areas touching on immigration. As has been the case for well over 200 years, federal action remains the sole legitimate avenue to address immigration issues."

UPDATE 2: The ADL weighs in with a bit of a muted press release (adl.org/PresRele/SupremeCourt_33/6050_33.htm). They're "disappointed":

The law increases the legal risks for businesses that employ undocumented workers but fails to provide sufficient \safeguards to protect those workers against unlawful treatment. It undermines federal efforts to balance discrimination concerns with control of illegal immigration.

The Arizona law also requires state use of E-Verify – a federal pilot program that allows employers to verify the eligibility of newly-hired employees – even though the program relies on records that are prone to error. That is one reason Congress has decided to hold off on making participation in the program mandatory.

Although the Court has upheld Arizona's law, we hope other states will show greater concern for the potentially discriminatory impact such laws can have, and choose not to follow Arizona's lead.

And, I hope they do follow Arizona's lead. We'll see how that works out; I tend to think several will.

Thu, 05/26/2011 - 11:25 · Importance: 4