September 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 271

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U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Employment Provision in Arizona Immigration Law

The Supreme Court has ruled in Arizona v. United States, Dkt No. 11-182 that Arizona’s S.B. 1070, enacted in 2010 in reaction to increasing undocumented immigration into the State, is largely preempted by federal law. The decision, issued by Justice Kennedy, considered four provisions of the 2010 Arizona law and struck down three, including Section 5(C), which made it a state criminal misdemeanor for undocumented immigrants to apply for employment or work in the state.

The Court held that the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) preempted Section 5(C) of the Arizona law. While the IRCA imposes criminal and civil penalties on employers that violate the law, it imposes only civil penalties on undocumented immigrants who apply for or engage in unauthorized work. The Court determined that Congress clearly intended not to impose criminal sanctions on undocumented immigrants through IRCA and therefore Section 5(C) of the Arizona law conflicted with federal law.

This decision is likely to affect other states that have enacted similar laws modeled after S.B. 1070. Consequently, the decision could prove to be beneficial for employers, who may be subject to less state regulation with respect to immigration issues in hiring.

© 2021 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume II, Number 184
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About this Author

Kaitlyn Jakubowski, Labor and Employment Attorney, Barnes Thornburg, Law firm
Associate

Kaitlyn N. Jakubowski is an associate in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Department. 

312-214-4860
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