Federal judge upholds Arizona immigration law

Federal judge upholds Arizona immigration law

[JURIST] A federal judge Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a new Arizona law aimed at preventing employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive]. The Legal Arizona Workers Act [AZHB 2779 PDF, Arizona Republic backgrounder], enacted [JURIST report] in July, gives the Superior Courts of Arizona power 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 [official DHS website], a free online federal program that checks names and identification documents to determine employment eligibility. The plaintiffs, a coalition of advocacy groups and business interests [JURIST report], had hoped to block the legislation before it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2008. US District Court Judge Neil V. Wake wrote [opinion text, PDF] that the lawsuit was premature because the law had not gone into effect and no one had been harmed, and also that the plaintiffs were wrong in suing the governor and the attorney general, because under the law, only county prosecutors, who were not defendants, have the power to enforce the law.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has called the law "the most aggressive action in the country against employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented workers." Napolitano urged similar national legislation in a July letter [PDF text] to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in which she also urged Congress to review the Basic Pilot Program [USCIS materials], the federal database used to verify the status of new employees. AP has more.