Civil Rights Coalition Continues To Fight Arizona Employer Sanctions Law

February 28, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org; (212) 549-2666

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) will continue to challenge the so-called Legal Arizona Workers Act in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The appellate court issued a decision today denying the coalition’s request to delay the law going into effect while the court considers the appeal. The court’s order did not express any view on the statute’s constitutionality and ordered the appeal to be expedited. 

The Arizona employer sanctions law requires employers to check the eligibility of all potential workers - U.S. citizens and immigrants alike - against E-Verify (formerly known as Basic Pilot), a voluntary, experimental and temporary federal database program with a high error rate.

The Arizona law also creates the state’s own system for investigating purported immigration violations and to levy severe state penalties on employers including permanently closing any business that accumulates two violations - regardless of how small - in a three-year period.

The civil rights coalition charges that the law conflicts with federal law and will lead to discrimination against lawful workers who are perceived as being foreign born. Parallel lawsuits have been filed by local Arizona and national business associations, including the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. Today’s ruling applies to those lawsuits as well.

The statements below can be attributed to the following participants in the lawsuit:

Omar Jadwat, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project: 
“We are disappointed the Court did not enjoin the law going into effect but are confident that when the court addresses our legal claims, it will find that Arizona’s unprecedented sanctions regime violates the Constitution. If every state and city were allowed to enact their own immigration laws that are inconsistent with federal law, chaos and confusion will result.”

Dan Pochada, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona:
“Arizona’s attempt to mandate that every employer use the error-prone E-Verify will harm Arizona workers and employers. This law is not only bad for business, but for American and legally authorized workers whose livelihood should not depend on an experimental database system."

Linton Joaquin, Executive Director of NILC: 
“Arizona’s attempt to override national immigration law has already had serious social, economic and legal costs. The xenophobic climate the law has created has caused immigrants to flee Arizona in droves. Not only is this new statute unconstitutional, it hurts Arizona in the pocketbook at a time when it is already vulnerable due to broader economic trends.”

Kristina Campbell, staff attorney with MALDEF:
“States shouldn’t be passing laws that encourage employers to fire or avoid hiring workers because of an accent or the color of their skin. Instead, what we need is comprehensive immigration reform that will take immigrants out of the shadows and help them get into workforce legally."

The two cases challenging the Arizona law, 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; Campbell and Cynthia Valenzuela of MALDEF; and 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

More information on the ACLU's work against anti-immigrant laws can be found online at:
www.aclu.org/immigrants/discrim/27848res20070105.html

 

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