The U.S. Surpeme Court has upheld two aspects of an Arizona law. One suspends or revokes the business license of firms that knowingly employ illegal aliens. The second aspect of the state’s Legal Arizona Workers Act requries employers to take steps to verify an employee’s right to work, including the use of the federal E-Verify system.
The Chamber of Commerce of the United States and various business and civil rights organizations filed suit against the Arizona law. Several other states have passed similar laws to take advantage of a provision in federal law that prohibits “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.”
That is why the Arizona law targeted business licenses.
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 divided court rules.
The case is seen as a bellweather because other cases are headed to the high court based on Arizona’s efforts to enforce immigration laws, which the federal government says belongs exclusively to it. The decision, released this week, said:
The Arizona licensing law is not impliedly preempted by federal law. At its broadest, the chamber’s argument is that Congress intended the federal system to be exclusive. But Arizona’s procedures simply implement the sanctions that Congress expressly allowed the States to pursue through licensing laws. Given that Congress specifically preserved such authority for the States, it stands to reason that Congress did not intend to prevent the states from using appropriate tools to exercise that authority.