A lot of media coverage has been devoted to Arizona’s “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (also known as Senate Bill 1070), which was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. The most controversial feature of SB 1070 authorizes and compels law enforcement officers to verify the legal status of persons reasonably believed to be illegally present in the country. SB 1070’s constitutionality has been challenged in multiple lawsuits, including one brought by the federal government (see the July 2010 issue of the Immigration eAuthority).
However, ongoing litigation relating to Arizona’s “other immigration law” likely will have a greater immediate impact on employers. The previously enacted Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) requires all Arizona employers to participate in the federal E-Verify system, the web-based system that electronically checks the employment authorization of newly-hired employees. LAWA’s validity was upheld in earlier decisions by a federal district court in Arizona and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and we now appear close to a decision. Oral arguments took place on December 8. While it only can be a guess, the nature of the oral argument suggests the Court may well uphold LAWA. We should all know the final answer within a few months.