August 13, 2010
On June 28, 2010 the Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari (for review) in a case that questions the legality of the proposed Legal Arizona Workers Act. Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. v. Napolitano, 558 F.3d 856 (9th Cir. 2009), cert. granted sub nom. Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria, (June 28, 2009) (No. 09-115). The case directly challenges the Arizona state law that intends to prohibit employers from intentionally hiring unauthorized immigrants and mandates how employers should verify employees. The petition that was sent to the Supreme Court states that the Arizona law is preempted by federal law. In other words, the court will answer the question if Arizona law is stepping into an area that is reserved for the federal government not for the individual States. What the Supreme Court will answer is can each state creates its own system of penalties and verification to immigration violations or this area is reserved for the federal government.
The Petition for the Writ of Certiorari requested that the Supreme Court reexamine the actions and findings of the lower courts. The district court and the Ninth Circuit both ruled that the Arizona statute was not preempt by federal law in two specific areas. Both courts concluded that the statute fell within the savings clause of the preemptive provision in the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). They also ruled that Congress did not specify that states could not require employers to participate in the electronic verification system for checking the status of immigrants. The petition’s main focus is that federal immigration laws preempt the proposed state laws.
The petition against the Arizona statute addresses the importance of following and maintaining federal law. Federal immigration laws were developed with the intent of protecting a system that was specifically designed to deter illegal immigration, to prevent unauthorized employment of immigrants, to limit the burdens on employers, and to recognized and uphold the rights of individuals seeking employment as well as current employees. The process for amending or adjusting immigration laws is designed to be a lengthy and thorough undertaking that involves the participation of the Executive Branch as well as Congress. In the case of the Arizona statute, state and local governments are attempting to impose their own discretions in regards to handling the employment of immigrants. The intent of the petition against the Arizona law is two-fold. It clearly states that the proposed state law is preempt by federal law. However, it also reinforces and addresses the specific fact that enforcing immigration is a role that belongs solely to the federal government.
The Supreme Court will be reviewing the case and analyzing the decisions that were made by the lower courts. Three aspects of the case will be focused on during the process. First, the court will address whether the Arizona law, that imposes sanctions on employees who hire illegal immigrants, is invalid as a result of federal law. Federal law preempts any state or local government from imposing civil or criminal sanctions on employers who hire illegal workers. Second, the court will decide whether the Arizona law, that requires all employers to use the federal electronic verification system, is preempted by a federal law that makes the use of the system voluntary. Finally, the court will also review whether the Arizona law is implied preemptive because it goes against the federal laws that Congress specifically created in the IRCA which are intended to control the employment of immigrants.
The review of the petition by the Supreme Court’s and the final conclusions about the Arizona statute are critical in determining the future of immigration in the United States. It is vital that federal laws are upheld in order to maintain the delicate balance between enforcing immigration policy and protecting the rights of all the parties involved. The passing of the Arizona statute would open the floodgates for racial profiling and discrimination. Immigration is meant to be controlled by the federal government due to the magnitude of the issues. Congress and the courts can jointly work towards immigration reform if that is necessary, but the federal laws that are in place must be followed in order to protect the current and future state of immigration in the United States.