The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to prevent Arizona from enforcing a law that punishes businesses that employ illegal immigrants, arguing that federal immigration law trumps state efforts. Lower courts have said the Arizona law is not pre-empted by the federal law.
The Obama administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to prevent Arizona from enforcing a law that punishes businesses that employ illegal immigrants, arguing that federal immigration law trumps state efforts.
The administration's views, contained in a new filing at the high court, are similar to concerns President Obama has expressed about a new Arizona law that cracks down on illegal immigrants.
When it takes effect July 29, the new law will require police enforcing any other law to examine immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion a person is in the country illegally.
Obama and other administration officials have said illegal immigration is an issue that must have a national solution rather than being addressed on a piecemeal basis by the states. The Obama administration is contemplating a court challenge to the new law.
Justice Department officials met face-to-face with Attorney General Terry Goddard and aides to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to elicit information from state officials regarding the Obama administration's concerns about the new law.
In asking the Supreme Court to take the employer sanctions case, the Obama administration said federal immigration law expressly pre-empts any state law imposing sanctions on employers hiring illegal immigrants. The administration added that if Arizona businesses knowingly use illegal immigrants, the businesses can have any of their state licenses suspended or revoked.
Lower courts have said that the Arizona law is not pre-empted by the federal law. That should be reversed, acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said in the Supreme Court filing.
The Arizona law disrupts "a careful balance that Congress struck nearly 25 years ago between two interests of the highest importance: ensuring that employers do not undermine enforcement of immigration laws by hiring unauthorized workers, while also ensuring that employers not discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities legally in the country," Katyal wrote.
Phoenix attorney Julie Pace, representing the trade associations that are challenging the Arizona law, called the Obama administration's position "good news that the federal government has gone on record supporting the legal challenge to the constitutionality" of the Arizona law.
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