[JURIST] A coalition of civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) [advocacy websites], filed a new federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] Wednesday challenging an Arizona law aimed at preventing employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive]. US District Court Judge Neil V. Wake Friday dismissed [opinion text, PDF; JURIST report] an earlier lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed by the groups, holding that that suit 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, would have the power to enforce the law. The rights groups said Wednesday that they expected the new lawsuit – filed against Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, Director of the Arizona Department of Revenue Gale Garriott and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas [official websites] – would address the court's procedural concerns and allow it to rule on the merits of the case. The Arizona law in dispute goes into effect January 1.
The Legal Arizona Workers Act [AZHB 2779 text, PDF; Arizona Republic backgrounder] 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 ACLU and other civil rights groups had filed the original lawsuit in federal court [ACLU press release] against the state of Arizona claiming that the law was unconstitutional and could lead to discrimination against minorities, especially Latinos. 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." The New York Times has more.