Civil Rights Coalition Continues to Challenge Arizona Employer Sanctions Law

December 21, 2007
UPDATE - 12/21/2007
Friday evening, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that it would defer consideration of the civil rights coalition's request to suspend the Arizona employer sanctions law. The court noted that Arizona officials have given assurances that they will not start enforcement actions before February. Given those circumstances, the circuit court decided to hold the coalition's request until after the district court ruled on the coalition's motion for preliminary injunction, which is scheduled for a hearing on January 16.

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Act is Unconstitutional and Illegally Punishes Businesses and Workers, Groups Say

PHOENIX - A Phoenix federal court today declined to issue an order suspending the so-called Legal Arizona Workers Act from going into effect on January 1, 2008. The law would compel businesses to check the work authorization status of employees using the Department of Homeland Security's Basic Pilot program (recently renamed e-Verify) and would institute new state-based penalties, including the revocation of business licenses without federal authorization.

“This radical and untested law should not be allowed to go into effect before a final determination of its constitutionality. Arizona's law does a disservice to the public and to the state's workers and businesses by requiring the use of a fundamentally flawed database system and imposing draconian sanctions,” said ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project attorney Omar Jadwat.

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 the law on September 4, 2007, charging that the Act conflicts with federal law, lacks due process protections, and will lead to discrimination against lawful workers who are perceived as being foreign born. After the court dismissed that lawsuit without addressing the legality of the Act itself, the plaintiffs appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and filed a new lawsuit in district court to address the judge's procedural concerns.

The groups are now asking the court of appeals to suspend the Arizona law.

"Arizona's improper attempt to enact its own immigration laws is already causing chaos and confusion. We are confident that the courts ultimately will agree that the Arizona law violates the Constitution,” said Jadwat.

The cases, Chicanos por la Causa v. Napolitano and Valle del Sol vs. Goddard, were filed on behalf of Valle del Sol, Chicanos por la Causa and Somos America, three Arizona-based organizations.

Lawyers on the case include Jadwat, Lucas Guttentag and Jennifer C. Chang of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project; Daniel Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona; Jonathan Weissglass, Stephen Berzon and Rebecca Smullin of Altshuler Berzon LLP; Kristina Campbell and Cynthia Valenzuela of MALDEF; and Linton Joaquin, Monica T. Guizar and Karen C. Tumlin of NILC.

More information about the lawsuit is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/discrim/32748res20071114.html

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