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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

RIGHTS GROUPS TARGET ARIZONA LAW

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PRESS RELEASE
FOR
IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
September 4, 2007

CONTACT:


Laurie Gindin Beacham (ACLU): 212-549-2666


Rosa María Santana (MALDEF): 562-833-5333
Marielena Hincapié
(NILC): 213-674-2812



Lawsuit alleges new state law will conflict with federal immigration law
and the U.S. Constitution



PHOENIX, AZ - The law firm of Altshuler Berzon, the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Arizona, the Mexican American
Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the National Immigration Law
Center (NILC) joined together to file a lawsuit in federal court today on behalf
of Chicanos Por La Causa and Somos America challenging Arizona's new law that
threatens employers with permanent loss of business licenses based on invalid
new state requirements.





The lawsuit alleges that the new law conflicts with federal
immigration law and the U.S. Constitution. The "Legal Arizona Workers Act"
requires that employers verify the employment eligibility of an employee through
a flawed federal verification database (the Basic Pilot Program) that was
intended by Congress to be voluntary and imposes sanctions beyond what the
federal government allows.





"Under federal law, participation in the Basic Pilot Program
is voluntary. By requiring Arizona employers to use this program, the Legal
Arizona Workers Act runs afoul of the Constitution and will subject all Arizona
employees regardless of legal status - Latinos in particular - to potential
discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin," said
Kristina Campbell, Acting Los Angeles Regional Counsel and lead MALDEF attorney
on the case.





"Arizona's statute attempts to override national law and
policy on the employment of immigrants," said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney at
the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "If states like Arizona could pass their
own immigration laws, workers and employers alike would face a patchwork of
conflicting and incompatible requirements based on local politics and
conditions, and it would be impossible to have a meaningful national
policy."





The state law also violates the Constitution's 14th Amendment
because it deprives workers of due process, according to the groups filing the
lawsuit. "It becomes easier and safer for Arizona business owners to
discriminate against anyone they suspect of being foreign rather than risk the
fines and penalties associated with a failure to comply with this law," said
Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "That's not
the way this country works. We make laws to prohibit discrimination. We don't
create laws that require people to discriminate."





The law requires employers to sign onto the Basic Pilot
Program, recently renamed "E-Verify," a voluntary, experimental program that has
gradually expanded to cover approximately 17,000 employers nationwide. "The
Basic Pilot has been plagued with problems, including failing to identify
legally authorized workers due to its reliance on the error-ridden databases of
the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, and
the DHS' lack of resources to monitor employer compliance with the rules of the
program," said Linton Joaquin, Executive Director of NILC, also representing the
plaintiffs on the case. "The Arizona law requires 130,000 - 150,000 Arizona
employers to join this flawed program, and this is truly a recipe for disaster
and will cause grievous harm to legally authorized workers."





In addition to Campbell, Jadwat, and Joaquin, lawyers on the
case include Stephen Berzon and Jonathan Weissglass of Altshuler Berzon; Cynthia
Valenzuela of MALDEF; Marielena Hincapié, Monica T. Guizar, and Karen C. Tumlin
of NILC; Daniel Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona; and Lucas Guttentag and Jennifer
Chang of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project.





The ACLU is a nationwide, nonprofit, nonpartisan
organization with more than 500,000 members dedicated to the principles of
liberty and equality embodied in the Constitution. Its Immigrants' Rights
Project works to defend the civil and constitutional rights of immigrants
through a comprehensive program of impact litigation and public education. The
ACLU website is www.aclu.org.


 


Founded in 1968,
MALDEF, the nation's leading Latino legal organization, promotes and protects
the rights of Latinos through litigation, advocacy, community education and
outreach, leadership development, and higher education scholarships. For more
information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.






Since 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has been
dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of low income immigrants and
their family members. In the past 20 years, NILC has earned a national
reputation as a leading expert on immigration, public benefits, and employment
laws affecting immigrants and refugees. Our extensive knowledge of the complex
interplay between immigrants' legal status and their rights under U.S. laws is
an essential resource for legal aid programs, community groups, and social
service agencies across the country. NILC's website is www.nilc.org.

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Comments

  1. Another voice's Avatar
    This is good for workers right and the disrupting effects on society of these laws, however if we really want CIR back I think society needs to feel a little pain from these laws in order for politicians to have a change of heart about CIR. Businesess, society and political contributions will be loud and clear.
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