State Capitol News
4:56 pm
Tue November 3, 2009

Obama administration to weigh in on employer sanctions law

Phoenix, AZ – The ability of prosecutors in this state to go after companies
that hire undocumented workers could depend on the views of the
Obama administration. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer
explains.

The U.S. Supreme Court wants the Department of Justice to weigh
in on claims challenging a 2-year-old Arizona law which allows
judges to suspend or revoke the licenses of firms that knowingly
hire undocumented workers. The issue has created an alliance of
businesses and various Hispanic civil rights organizations, all
who contend Congress never intended to let local governments
enforce immigration law. Some of these groups are seen as
friendly to the administration and some are not. Attorney David
Selden who represents business interests said he hopes the
administration doesn't take a legal position on the Arizona law
based on politics.

"I don't see the Department of Justice saying, oh, we're going to
weigh in on a legal interpretation of this just by how we feel
about the Chamber of Commerce versus how we feel about civil
rights groups versus how we feel about who might be aligned on
the opposite side of the issue."

Foes of the law have an uphill fight. Two lower courts have
acknowledged that federal law preempts local governments from
imposing civil and criminal penalties against companies that hire
undocumented workers. But they said Congress did permit states to
take away business licenses of firms that break the law.