Thursday, May 26, 2011
The 5-3 ruling is a victory for groups who support greater immigration enforcement at the state level. And it’s a blow to immigration advocates who say immigration enforcement should only be handled
by federal authorities.
Read the decision here.
Arizona passed the Legal Arizona Workers Act in 2007. It requires companies use free federal databases, such as E-Verify, to check the documentation of employees. It also gives the state the right to suspend the licenses of business that “intentionally or knowingly” violate those verification requirements.
"Arizona has taken the route least likely to cause tension with federal law," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the decision. "In exercising that authority, Arizona has taken the route least likely to cause tension with federal law...it relies solely on the Federal Government’s own determination of who is an unauthorized alien, and it requires Arizona employers to use the Federal Government’s own system for checking employee status."
No doubt legislators across the country are going to now take a closer look at this bill. Many legislators, including those in North Carolina, have discussed or introduced bill that would give states greater authority in enforcing immigration laws.
Roberts was supported by his four conservative colleagues.
In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said permitting states to make E-Verify a mandatory program improperly puts states in a position of making decisions that directly affect expenditure and depletion of federal resources.
"Because state laws requiring use of E-Verify frustrate the significant policy objectives underlying this decision, thereby imposing explicitly unwanted burdens on the Federal Government," she wrote, "I would hold that federal law impliedly preempts the Arizona requirement."