The Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision yesterday that upholds Arizona’s employer sanctions law is a disappointment to Arizona Farm Bureau.
The lawsuit challenged the legality of states to enact laws addressing illegal immigration, an area of law that for the most part is pre-empted by the federal government. This ruling may open the door for other states to enact Arizona type employer sanctions laws.
“While we are disappointed with the ruling to uphold the Arizona Employer Sanctions Law, we honor the Supreme Court’s decision and hope the federal government will take Arizona’s lead and work on meaningful immigration policy,” says Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers. “The ability of states to enforce licensing under similar employer sanctions laws only addresses one small part of a complex and challenging illegal immigration problem.”
According to Rogers, in addition to employer sanctions laws, much more work needs to be done to address illegal immigration. States remain limited in what they can do to address border security, visa reform and employment verification.
Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the public policy law firm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agrees. “The Court in no way endorsed states' adoption of shadow immigration regimes. The Supreme Court only upheld the Arizona law because the Arizona statute takes federal law as it is. As the Court said, the Arizona law has been saved because it uses the federal government's own definition of "unauthorized alien," it relies on the federal government's determination of who is an unauthorized alien, and requires states to use a federal system to check employee status."
“Much of the work left to do will be up to the federal government,” says Rogers.
Congress is already considering mandating E-Verify nationwide, as Arizona did in their employer sanctions law. The Arizona Farm Bureau is concerned merely mandating E-Verify will do little to curb illegal immigration. “The proliferation of fraudulent employment documents and identity theft in this country already confounds hiring laws and safeguards and E-Verify does little to address this issue,” says Joe Sigg, director of Government Relations at the Arizona Farm Bureau. “I hope as they consider mandating this system, they give employers some sort of safe harbor and help through visa reform.”
Rogers also reiterated the commitment of employers to adhere to immigration laws. “Farmers and ranchers will do everything in their power as employers to hire legal employees, just give us the tools we need through visa reform and a reliable verification system to ensure our worker pool is adequate and legal.”