Both men ruled in the majority to uphold the Legal Arizona Workers Act in Chamber of Commerce vs. Whiting. Roberts wrote the majority opinion—while Obama`s "Wise Latina" Sonia Sotomayor wrote the dissent.
After activist judges made disappointing and even outrageous decisions in lower courts in the last year against SB 1070 and Hazleton PA`s Illegal Immigration Relief Act, this is a huge victory and reason to celebrate.
Ironically enough, it was
George Bush`s failure to enforce our laws that
The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act [IRCA] was designed as a compromise—it was to give amnesty to a limited number of illegal immigrants, while at the same time outlawing the employment of illegal immigrants which would have presumably ended the problem of illegal immigration.
But under George W Bush`s first term, sanctions against employers of illegal aliens virtually disappeared. As VDARE.com`s Ed Rubenstein reported, from 1997 to 2004 the number of illegal aliens detained in workforce raids decreased from 17,554 to159 and the number of employers who were sanctioned plummeted from 865 to just three. (Then the government changed the basis of reporting, preventing further comparisons.)
Against this backdrop, then-State Rep. (now president of the Arizona State Senate) Russell Pearce pushed through the Legal Arizona Workers Act in 2007. LAWA required that all new hires in the state go through the E-Verify system to ensure that they are here legally, or else the hirer could lose its state business license. Knowing that an even tougher version would be made into a ballot initiative if she vetoed the measure, then-Arizona governor (now Obama Secretary of Homeland Security) Janet Napolitano reluctantly signed the bill.
And this worked in
expected, the Open Borders lobby tried to sabotage the
democratic process through a frivolous lawsuit, filed by
Chamber of Commerce along with Chicanos por la Causa,
Watch, Eagle Forum, Numbers USA, and FAIR`s Immigration
Reform Law Institute all filed briefs in favor of
At issue was IRCA`s provision that
"any State or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens."
This should have been an open and shut case, in that IRCA here explicitly allows state regulations of licensing laws. But, needless to say, with enough creative lawyers the Chamber of Commerce managed to argue that the law implicitly barred states from issuing sanctions dealing with licensing unless someone had also been sanctioned by federal immigration authorities (which of course, never happens.)
A panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal (different from the Justices who recently upheld an injunction against SB 1070) upheld LAWA. It went to the Supreme Court last December. Roberts` decision held that "other than licensing" meant "other than licensing" but also reaffirms a great deal of state authority on immigration.
Despite the fact that the ACLU and company tried to make the argument that states have no authority to issue immigration authority, they are now arguing that this ruling is very narrow and won`t have any effect on the immigration debate as a whole. According to Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants` Rights Project:
"Today`s decision is a narrow one
that only upholds
[Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Employment Law in Narrow Ruling, ACLU Press Release, May 26, 2011]
The ACLU is arguing that the decision was based almost solely on the belief (wrongly in its opinion) that Congress had explicitly granted states the authority to regulate business licenses. Therefore, anything that Congress does not explicitly grant states the right to do on immigration is not affected by this ruling.
Fortunately, this is wishful thinking on the ACLU`s part.
In some respects, LAWA is farther-reaching than SB 1070. LAWA actually adds a new regulation in Arizona—mandatory E-Verify—which is not required by the Feds, while SB 1070 merely mirrors federal law and applies it to state law enforcement.
Furthermore, Roberts` decision resolutely reaffirms the
1976 case Decanas vs. Bica
where the Supreme Court unanimously held that
the ruling established no precedent beyond E-Verify, the
effect still goes far beyond
More importantly, the ruling in Whiting will provide support for a national E-Verify measure. In the wake of this decision, Cheap Labor lobbyist Tamar Jacoby,[Email her]now appears resigned to the fact that it will pass, noting
"Lamar Smith is expected to introduce a bill in coming weeks mandating that most or all employers across the country enroll in the E-Verify program. Just what today`s ruling will mean for that bill is unclear. But it only increases the already good odds that Smith`s bill will move easily through Congress."
Jacoby says her new goal (and therefore immigration patriots` top concern) is to make sure that "worksite enforcement must be accompanied by programs that allow the foreign workers we need to enter the U.S. legally" [Re: US Supreme Court ruling on Legal Arizona Workers Act, Immigration Works, ImmigrationWorksUSA.com, By Tamar Jacoby, May 26, 2011 (pdf)]
I will write more about the national E-Verify fight in a future column. But, as Jacoby shows, immigration patriots` statewide measures are forcing the federal government finally to move forward to the point that we are on the verge of this even bigger victory.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.