Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Employment Law

May 26, 2011

Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Employment Law in Narrow Ruling

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld a 2007 Arizona law on employer sanctions and verification, finding that the Arizona law was expressly authorized by a provision of federal law. The decision does not apply to or address other state or local immigration laws, such as Arizona law SB 1070.

The Arizona law addressed in today’s decision imposes licensing penalties on businesses that have knowingly employed workers who are not lawfully authorized to work in the U.S., but only if the federal government confirms the lack of employment authorization. It also requires Arizona employers to participate in the federal E-Verify program. The challenge was brought by a broad coalition of civil rights and business groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Arizona, MALDEF, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the law firm of Altshuler Berzon, and the United States Chamber of Commerce.

The following quotes can be attributed as stated:

Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project:
“Today’s decision is a narrow one that only upholds Arizona’s specific law on employment verification. The decision has nothing to do with SB 1070 or any other state or local immigration laws. We are disappointed with today’s decision, and believe it does not reflect what Congress intended.”

Linton Joaquin, NILC’s general counsel:
“We’re deeply disappointed that the Court has allowed this law, which has proven to have serious economic ramifications for Arizona’s workers and employers, to remain in effect. However, the ruling does not grant states the right to enforce immigration law — the issue at the heart of current legal challenges to SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law. State legislators considering this decision a free pass to enact and implement legislation targeting immigrants are gravely mistaken.”

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs Valle del Sol, Chicanos por la Causa and Somos America include Omar Jadwat, Lucas Guttentag and Jennifer Chang Newell of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Daniel Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona; Jonathan Weissglass and Stephen Berzon of Altshuler Berzon LLP; Valenzuela Dixon of MALDEF; and Joaquin and Karen C. Tumlin of NILC.

The decision is available at

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