>Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Immigration Law

>The US Supreme Court, Thursday, upheld portions of an Arizona law aimed at employers that hire illegal immigrants. The 5-3 split decision agreed that the state had the right to sanction employers who hire illegals by revoking or banning them from obtaining business licenses or partnership certificates. This is a key element in many state laws that have recently been passed or are currently under consideration.

The Arizona law that was challenged, required employers to use the federal E-Verify program when hiring all employees. If an employer was found to not be using this system and/or knowingly hired illegals, they could lose their business license or partnership certificate. This is what has become to be known as the business “death penalty”. The penalty has been used very few times because it is very difficult to prove the employer “knowingly” hired the illegal alien.

The opponents to the law were arguing that the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) passed in 1986 superseded the state’s ability to control immigration and employer sanctions. IRCA specifically says that states can’t regulate the employer employee relationship except by through licensing laws. This exemption has been the focus of many state laws… including the one recently passed in Georgia and the bills being considered in SC and AL.

A more controversial law in Arizona will likely see its way to the Supreme Court at some point in the future. This is the law that requires state and local law enforcement to question the legality of the residence of a person when the officer suspects they are not legally in the country. This provision is also a key in many states laws meant to control illegal immigration.

Yesterday’s ruling will likely ramp up states to make their own immigration rules and create a patchwork of various rules and regulations across the country. Each state has the potential to make its own variations on a theme and have nuances that will make businesses pull their hair out when trying to operate in various states.

In attempting to better help our industry comply with the newly signed Georgia law, Southeastern Cotton Ginners is sponsoring a webinar put on by the law firm of Fisher and Phillips in June. This will be limited to Georgia gins and details are still pending. An email will be sent to GA gins with details and reservations.

More information on the Supreme Court decision can be found here. Please let us know if you have any questions.