Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The Supreme Court had arguments on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, on the case of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, which involves the Employer Sanctions Law of Arizona.  Arizona’s Employer Sanctions Law is among the toughest in the nation. The Law imposes sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers who work illegally in the country. It mandates that employers participate in the federal employment verification system called E-Verify, which verifies the work status of a worker.

Lower court decisions have upheld the Arizona’s Employer Sanctions law as constitutional. Based on these lower court decisions, it is anticipated that the Supreme Court will uphold the Employer Sanctions Law. However, opponents of the law, including the Asian American Justice Center and the National Immigration Justice Center, filed amicus briefs on the theory that the application of Arizona’s Employer Sanctions Law has a discriminatory effect and is unconstitutional.

This case is one to watch for the ongoing debate between the states and the federal government over the federal government’s handling of immigration.  The case will certainly act as a guidepost on how far the Supreme Court will allow states to intrude on immigration enforcement, a domain traditionally reserved for the federal government. 

While much has been made on both sides of the debate about what the U.S. Constitution says about immigration, it is interesting to note that the U.S. Constitution is incredibly brief on the subject.  Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, only requires Congress to "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization."  Given the brevity of words, it is not surprising that we have so much debate on the subject. 

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