Last week, the United States Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to the Legal Arizona Workers Act, an Arizona state law prohibiting employers from knowingly or intentionally employing an unauthorized immigrant.
The petitioners allege that the Arizona statute is unlawful because it is preempted by federal immigration laws that regulate the employment of non-citizens. The lower courts upheld the statute, finding that it was not preempted by federal law.
The Supreme Court will address three questions; 1) Whether an Arizona statute that imposes sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized aliens is invalid under a federal statute that expressly “preempt[s] any State or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens.” 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(h)(2); 2) Whether the Arizona statute, which requires all employers to participate in a federal electronic employment verification system, is preempted by a federal law that specifically makes that system voluntary. 8 U.S.C. § 1324a note, and 3) Whether the Arizona statute is impliedly preempted because it undermines the “comprehensive scheme” that Congress created to regulate the employment of aliens. Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137, 147 (2002).
Once the Supreme Court makes a decision, it will serve as precedent for the states that have similar requirements of employers for determining the employment eligibility of foreign workers.
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