Saturday, December 22, 2007
It was no surprise given that, as previously reported here,the district court had previously dismissed a challenge the the new Arizona immigration/employer sanctions law slated to go into effect on january 1. Yesterday, in a new lawsuit, the same judge refused to block the implementation of the Arizona law that penalizes businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants. Here is a news story on the ruling.
U.S. District Judge Neil Wake denied requests for a temporary restraining order or an emergency injunction to block the law from taking effect. For a copy of the order, see Download aca_122107.pdf
Judge Wake ruled on both the motion for injunction pending appeal in the first challenge to the Arizona employer sanctions law (Chicanos Por La Causa v. Napolitano) and the motion for a temporary restraining order in the second challenge (Valle del Sol. v. Goddard). The judge denied both requests for a TRO and a motion for injunction pending appeal, and in the latter, he issued a 29 page ruling that assesses the merits of the case. Judge Wake first determined that plaintiffs did not meet their burden of establishing the necessity of interim relief because the balance of hardships tips strongly in favor of the defendants. The judge held that plaintiffs’ hardship was minimal (economic injury only), and opined that an injunction would “gravely injure the interests of the State” because of the confusion that may result if the law is enjoined at the eleventh hour. He also stated that there would be great harm to the public interest if the law was enjoined because legal workers are harmed by the employment of unauthorized workers in the State of Arizona. The judge then went on to analyze plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits. He first concluded that it is questionable whether plaintoffs will be able to sustain their claims on subject matter jurisdiction in the Court of Appeals. Judge Wake then proceeded to find that the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), the federal scheme for regulating immigration, expressly authorizes rather than preempts the licensing sanctions in the Arizona employer sanctions law. He found that the Arizona employer sanctions law does not conflict with IRCA because it does not make employers conform to a stricter standard of conduct than the federal law, and that mandatory participation in E-Verify is not in conflict with, or pre-empted by, federal law. This ruling is in direct conflict to the holding by the judge in Lozano v. Hazleton on very similar, if not nearly identical, facts. Finally, on the claim that the Arizona employer sanctions law violates procedural due process, Judge Wake concluded that “[t]hough Plaintiffs have raised a substantial issue, they have not met their burden of showing a strong likelihood of success on this issue.”
The Ninth Circuit already has refused the request to rule on an emergency request for injunctive relief and has declined to rule on this case until Judge Wake rules on the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction in the newly filed cases in mid-January. It therefore appears that the Arizona law will go into effect as scheduled on January 1, 2008.
UPDATE The Washington Post has a thoughtful op/ed about the Arizona law, and its potentially damaging impacts on the state's economy.