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Brief summary of 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision


Appeals Court Strikes Down Provisions of Flawed Oklahoma Anti-Immigrant Law

Decision Summary by the America Civil Liberties Union

FEBRUARY 2, 2010

A federal appeals court today struck down two provisions of a flawed Oklahoma anti-immigrant law purporting to regulate the employment of immigrants. The court held that the invalidated provisions, which sought to create a new civil action to penalize businesses that employ unauthorized workers and impose a punitive tax on businesses that decline to verify the employment eligibility of independent contractors, are preempted by federal immigration law. The court therefore upheld the district court’s injunction prohibiting enforcement of these provisions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit split on the lawfulness of a third provision of the Oklahoma law mandating that all public contractors enroll in the federal E-Verify system. As a result of the disagreement, there was no majority decision on the validity of Oklahoma’s E-Verify mandate. Importantly, the district court’s injunction preventing the state Governor from enforcing the E-Verify mandate remains in place and the Tenth Circuit did not disturb that ruling.

Notably, the Tenth Circuit explicitly disagreed with the Ninth Circuit’s 2009 decision upholding an Arizona immigrant employment law, and emphasized that the court was “unpersuaded by its reasoning.” A petition for certiorari in the Arizona case is currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. The American Civil Liberties Union is co-counsel in that case.

The ACLU along with the National Immigration Law Center and Mayer Brown LLP filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other plaintiffs in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al., v. Edmondson, et al.