[JURIST] A federal judge Tuesday refused to block enforcement of an Arizona law that penalizes employers who hire illegal immigrants while opponents of the law appeal their case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website]. Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund [advocacy websites], filed an application for a temporary restraining order [PDF text] against the Legal Arizona Workers Act [AZHB 2779 text, PDF; Arizona Republic backgrounder] in December 2007, alleging that the Act could either cause irreparable injury or undue hardship to state employers if allowed to operate during trial. US District Judge Neil V. Wake said that the costs to employers and the potential hardships they could face are minimal and that the rights of legal employees outweigh any benefits employers might gain by hiring illegal workers.
The Legal Arizona Workers Act, which went into effect on January 1, allows the Superior Courts of Arizona to suspend or revoke the business licenses of businesses that intentionally or knowingly employ illegal immigrants. Under the law, employers will be required to check the legal status of new hires using E-Verify [DHS backgrounder], a free online federal program that checks names and identification documents to determine employment eligibility. Wake upheld the law [JURIST report] earlier this month after having previously dismissed [PDF text; JURIST report] an earlier lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against the new law filed by the ACLU and other civil rights groups. When Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the legislation [JURIST report] in July, she called the law "the most aggressive action in the country against employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented workers." Capitol Media Services has more.