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Chamber Challenges E-Verify Law

 WASHINGTON —The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will file its opening brief in Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. Whiting, et al. (formerly Candelaria), the Chamber’s Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of a controversial 2007 Arizona immigration law.

“American businesses are overwhelmed by the cacophony of complex and often conflicting state and local immigration regulations,” said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the U.S. Chamber’s public policy law firm. “The confusing patchwork of immigration regulations doesn’t solve our immigration problems, and instead makes it more difficult for employers to create jobs and grow the economy.”

The challenged Arizona law requires businesses to comply with the federal E-Verify pilot program to electronically verify employees’ eligibility to work, and authorizes state officials to adjudicate employment eligibility.  The law also imposes harsher sanctions on employers than those under federal law. As governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano called the law’s sanctions “the business death penalty” because the law permits the state to revoke a company’s charter and articles of incorporation. In its lawsuit, the Chamber argues that the Arizona law is preempted by federal immigration laws. Leading Supreme Court advocate Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin LLP will argue the case for the Chamber.

“States and municipalities are understandably frustrated with our broken immigration system, but balkanized regulation is not the answer. In the first half of 2010 alone, states and localities have enacted over 300 immigration laws and ordinances, many of them employment-related,” said Conrad. “But immigration reform is a national problem that requires a national solution. We are asking the Supreme Court to clarify that Congress has made it clear that it is up to the federal government, not individual states, to set national immigration policy.”

The lawsuit has garnered widespread support, with business, labor and civil rights organizations joining in the litigation. The Chamber’s co-plaintiffs include Chicanos Por La Causa, Somos America, Valle Del Sol, Inc., represented by the ACLU, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and National Immigration Law Center. Other co-plaintiffs include Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Contractors Association, Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, Arizona Restaurant and Hospitality Association, Associated Minority Contractors of America, Arizona Roofing Contractors Association, Wake Up Arizona!, and Arizona Landscape Contractors Association.

NCLC is the public policy law firm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that advocates fair treatment of business in the courts and before regulatory agencies.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

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