Obama Lawyers Urge U.S. High Court Review of Arizona Law on Alien Hiring

The Obama administration, joining forces with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, asked the Supreme Court to review an Arizona law that puts companies at risk of losing their corporate charters if they hire illegal aliens.

Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal urged the justices today in a court filing to hear the business trade group’s contentions that federal immigration law pre-empts the Arizona law. Katyal said the state measure “disrupts the careful balance struck by Congress.”

The 2007 law is separate from the new Arizona statute that requires local police to check the immigration status of people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. That law isn’t at issue in the case before the Supreme Court.

Katyal said the court shouldn’t hear the Chamber of Commerce’s arguments against a separate provision in the 2007 law requiring employers to participate in E-Verify, a system designed to let employers confirm employment eligibility through federal databases.

The 2007 law makes the hiring of illegal aliens an Arizona state offense, in addition to a federal one, and subjects violators to penalties including the revocation of their corporate charters.

A federal statute bars states and cities from penalizing employers for hiring illegal aliens except through licensing and similar laws.

A San Francisco-based federal appeals court upheld the Arizona law, saying the sanctions qualified as licensing penalties.

Since 2007, 28 states have enacted laws regulating the employment of aliens, according to the trade group’s appeal.

The case is Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria, 09-115.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

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