2007 Arizona Immigration Law Sustained by Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court supported the state of Arizona in a 2007 law that will now penalize business for hiring undocumented workers, after a 5-3 majority agreed states had the right to take action against illegal immigrants.

“The Arizona regulation does not otherwise conflict with federal law,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, in court documents released today.

The sustained law requires businesses to verify employees’ legal status to avoid license suspensions. In cases of a second offense, business would be prevented from practicing in the state. Employers are required to use the federal E-Verify program to screen workers in a state where an estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants live, according to the Pew Hispanic Research Center.

The Chamber of Commerce, which brought the lawsuit against the state, argued that “allowing states and localities to regulate immigration would create a ‘crazy quilt’ of statues that will burden employers and would be unfair to employees”

This decision does not involve last year’s more controversial law, but according to The Los Angeles Times, “the ruling is likely to encourage the state and its supporters.”

Janet Napolitano – then Arizona democratic governor and now Secretary of Homeland Security – signed the bill during the summer of 2007. In a statement after the law was signed, Napolitano said, "Congress has failed miserably” in providing a comprehensive immigration strategy, according to a New York Times article from July 3, 2007.

The three judges who opposed the law in court were all democrats, including Sonia Sotomayor.