Get ready to rumble…
The Chamber of Commerce and some business groups challenged the validity of the Legal Arizona Workers’ Act in a pre-enforcement lawsuit arguing the “state’s law license suspension and revocation provisions” were pre-empted by the federal immigration law (The Immigration and Control Act, (“IRCA”).
ICRA makes it unlawful for a person or entity to hire, recruit, or refer for a fee for employment knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien. In an attempt to improve the verification process, The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996, was enacted to assist employers in checking the work authorization status of an employee.
The Arizona Law also requires that all employers use “E-Verify.”
Supreme Court decision
Held: The judgment is affirmed. 558 F. 3d 856, affirmed. THE CHIEF JUSTICE delivered the opinion of the Court with respect
to Parts I and II–A, concluding that Arizona’s licensing law is not expressly pre-empted.
Arizona’s licensing law falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the States and therefore is not expressly preempted. While IRCA prohibits States from imposing “civil or criminal sanctions” on those who employ unauthorized aliens, it preserves state authority to impose sanctions “through licensing and similar laws.” §1324a(h)(2). That is what the Arizona law does—it instructs courts to suspend or revoke the business licenses of in-state employers that employ unauthorized aliens. The definition of “license” contained in the Arizona statute largely parrots the definition of “license” that Congress codified in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
The state statute also includes within its definition of “license” documents such as articles of incorporation, certificates of partnership, and grants of authority to foreign companies to transact business in the State, Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §23–211(9), each of which has clear counterparts in APA and dictionary definitions of the word “license.” And even if a law regulating articles of incorporation and the like is not itself a “licensing law,” it is at the very least “similar” to one, and therefore comfortably within the savings clause. The Chamber’s argument that the Arizona law is not a “licensing” law be- cause it operates only to suspend and revoke licenses rather than to grant them is without basis in law, fact, or logic.