2:27 pm, May 26th, 2011
As news came down Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law requiring businesses to check new hires using the federal E-Verify system in order to prevent employment of illegal aliens—a provision also included in the recently signed Georgia immigration bill known as Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011—local attorneys took note of the decision’s potential impact on any Georgia challenge.
Arizona approved the Legal Arizona Workers Act in 2007, though it came under judicial review after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a suit claiming a state does not have the authority to require E-Verify use, according to the Associated Press. The federal high court ruled 5-3 in the state’s favor.
Georgia’s law, House Bill 87, phases in the business mandate, requiring those with 500 or more employees to register with E-Verify by July 1; 100 to 499 employees by July 1, 2012; and 10 to 99 employees by July 1, 2013.
Another provision in HB87 closely mirrors a second Arizona immigration law aimed at public safety. While Arizona’s law allows law enforcement officers to arrest suspected illegal immigrants, Georgia’s allows officers to check a suspect’s legal status if that person has been charged with another crime.
A district court judge enjoined parts of Arizona’s law, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision.
A Roswell immigration attorney said he is working with national advocacy groups to file for an injunction sometime this summer.
The Daily Report was able to reach two key figures in the Georgia immigration debate for their response.
Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, who sponsored HB 87, said: “I think the U.S. Supreme Court got this decision exactly right, and I am glad to see the Court uphold the principles of federalism delineated in the United States’ Constitution by recognizing that states clearly do have a role in addressing the issues posed by illegal immigration. Specifically, the decision makes clear what we have believed all along — that the requirement in HB 87 that Georgia businesses use E-Verify, which is intended to ensure Georgia has a legal workforce, is not only good policy but also a constitutional exercise of the State of Georgia’s authority to address this pressing issue.”
Roswell immigration attorney Charles H. Kuck, who is heading up the potential challenge, said: “We were never including a challenge to the E-Verify portion of HB 87 in our litigation. I believe the 9th Circuit was correct both times it ruled on the Arizona legislation, both in upholding the E-Verify requirement as permitted under a state licensing scheme within the parameters of IRCA, and in striking down the anti-immigration, unconstitutionally preempted provisions of SB 1070, which were mimicked in HB 87. We remain strongly convinced that substantial portion so of HB 87 will be struck down by the Courts when the challenge is brought. ”
“On E-Verify, if a state wants to impose unequal burdens on private employers based upon the whim of state legislators, it may does so. Being legal and being good public policy are, of course, not always the same thing however.”