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Valle del Sol v. Goddard

Last Update: September 17, 2008

What's at Stake

Civil Rights Coalition Argues Arizona Employer Sanctions Law Is Illegal

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the law firm of Altshuler Berzon filed a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s employer sanctions law, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, in federal court in December 2007 on behalf of Valle del Sol, Chicanos por la Causa, and Somos America, three Arizona-based organizations. The coalition charges that the new law is preempted by federal immigration law and the U.S. Constitution. On September 17, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to overturn the law but expressly left open the possibility of further challenges.

The act introduced a new state law that regulates employment based on work authorization status — even though there is a comprehensive federal law on the same topic. The act unlawfully seeks to impose sanctions far beyond what the federal government allows by completely closing down any business that, according to the state, has committed two violations in a three-year period. In addition, the act requires all Arizona businesses to check their employees’ work authorization status by using the flawed federal Basic Pilot program (recently renamed e-Verify). The Basic Pilot system, which the federal government established as a voluntary, experimental, and temporary system to test the concept of electronic employee verification, is rife with errors and frequently leads to problems for lawful workers. Congress has repeatedly refused to make the system permanent or mandatory.

An earlier lawsuit, Chicanos Por La Causa and Somos America v. Napolitano, was filed on November 14, 2007. That case was dismissed without a ruling on the law on December 7, 2007. The coalition filed the present case on December 12, 2007.

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