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U.S. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS ARIZONA LAW REGARDING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT WORKERS - WILL YOUR STATE BE NEXT?

This week the Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that sanctions employers for illegal hiring of immigrants. As reported on the front-page of today's Wall Street Journal, the Arizona law can put employers out of business for hiring illegal immigrants. The Arizona law requires employers to use the federal government's E-Verify system to verify the status of each worker. Under the Arizona law, the state can revoke charters or licenses of employers that repeatedly hire noncitizens without work permits.

The Supreme Court's decision upholding Arizona's law has sparked fear among businesses that they will be constrained by a mix of state regulations - regulations that could severely hamper or cripple business operations. For example, the Wall Street Journal reports that many business owners feel that the growing number of different state and local immigration laws is a serious obstacle in doing business across state lines. On the other hand, others feel that the number of illegal immigrant workers is disadvantaging American workers. Some say, the regulation will promote American jobs and higher wages.

Undoubtedly, Arizona business owners are concerned about losing their licenses or charters due to the stringent regulations. The fear may not end there. Although this week's ruling by the Court only affects Arizona, other states, including Utah, Mississippi, and West Virginia have implemented similar laws regulating illegal immigrant workers. Further, this ruling may be used to support similar laws in other states, especially border-states, like Michigan.

Laws against employing illegal immigrant workers are not new. I have handled investigations involving federal laws in this area as both a federal prosecutor and private defense attorney. However, the prospect of businesses having to navigate a potential morass of state rules and regulations regarding the immigration status of their employees, in additional to federal ones, would undoubtedly create yet one more burdensome layer of government regulation for businesses to deal with.

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