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Supreme Court Rejects Key Parts of Arizona’s Immigration Enforcement Law

On June 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5-3 decision to strike down three out of the four challenged provisions of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, commonly known as S.B. 1070. The majority’s decision reaffirms the power of the federal government to set immigration policy and to preempt state laws that conflict with federal laws.

The Court blocked S.B. 1070 provisions that created new state misdemeanors for unauthorized aliens seeking or engaging in work in the state and for failure to complete or carry an alien registration document as required by federal statute. It also blocked the provision authorizing officers to arrest without a warrant a person whom an officer believes committed a public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.

The Court upheld the law’s best-known provision, which requires state law enforcement officers to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of individuals they stop or arrest if there is reason to believe the individuals might be unlawfully present in the United States. The Court found it was improper to enjoin this part of the law before state courts had an opportunity to interpret it and without some evidence that the measure as enforced conflicts with federal immigration law.

This week’s highly anticipated decision follows last year’s other notable Supreme Court immigration ruling in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. v. Whiting et al. In Whiting, the Court upheld the Arizona law that provides for revocation of business licenses for employers that employ unauthorized workers and requires Arizona employers to use E-verify, a federal, internet-based system used to confirm the immigration status of employees. Several states have similar laws requiring the use of E-verify by state employers and contractors. The Court’s recent decisions did not overturn or change these state E-verify requirements.  Multi-state employers must continue the difficult task of navigating the patchwork of state E-verify requirements.



About this Author

Jose Olivieri, Michael Best Friedrich, Fair Labor Standards Act attorney, employment-based immigration lawyer, citizen naturalization legal counsel, student discipline law, employee termination representation

José A. Olivieri is a partner and the founder and Co-Chair of our firm’s immigration law practice. Mr. Olivieri is also former Chair of the firm's Labor and Employment Relations Practice Group. He has extensive experience in the area of employment-based immigration matters, including B (temporary visitor), E (treaty trader/investor), L (intracompany transferee), F and M (student), H (temporary worker), J (exchange visitor), O and P (outstanding artist, scientist, educator, businessperson and/or athlete), R (religious worker) and TN (NAFTA) status, as well as permanent...

Kelly M. Fortier Michael Best Law Firm immigration

Kelly Fortier is a Partner in the firm’s Labor and Employment Relations Practice Group and Co-Chair of the Immigration and International Migration team. Her practice includes representation of management in all aspects of employment law, with primary focus on employment-based immigration, including nonimmigrant petitions, permanent residence cases, naturalization applications, and employment verification issues. Her immigration work includes B (temporary visitor), E (treaty trader/investor), F (student), H (temporary worker), J (exchange visitor), L (intracompany transferee), O (extraordinary ability in the sciences, R (religious worker), and TN (NAFTA) visas, as well as permanent labor certification, national interest waivers, adjustment of status, consular processing, motions to reopen, citizenship and other immigration-related employment law matters. She provides Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance advice and training as well as social security mismatch notice guidance. She is experienced with immigration enforcement investigations and audits.