After a federal judge last week threw out a lawsuit contesting Arizona's new immigration law, an umbrella organization representing about a dozen business groups filed a new lawsuit and requested a temporary restraining order.
If the court denies a restraining order, the controversial immigration law is set to go into effect Jan. 1.
According to the law, builders and other businesspeople can have their licenses revoked if they are found to have knowingly and repeatedly employed an undocumented worker. The first offense calls for a 10-day suspension.
The law also mandates that more than 140,000 Arizona employers use the voluntary federal E-Verify program to screen new hires for employment eligibility.
In the absence of federal immigration legislation, state governments have been busy legislating local solutions. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that as of mid-November, 1,562 immigration bills were introduced in state legislatures nationwide, and 244 laws were enacted in 46 states.
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake ruled the original lawsuit was premature. He said the immigration law had not yet gone into effect, therefore it was impossible to determine whether it caused any harm. The judge also said that the Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform (AZEIR) needed to sue county prosecutors as opposed to the governor and attorney general. According to Judge Wake, the state's top officials only investigate, while county prosecutors enforce the law.
The new lawsuit, which was filed Monday in federal court, names all 15 of the state's county attorneys as defendants.
Julie Pace, an attorney who represents AZEIR, said the key to Friday's decision was that Judge Wake did not actually rule on the constitutionality of the state's immigration law. Pace said she hopes the restraining order will be granted so both sides can have time to argue the constitutional issue of whether federal immigration law pre-empts state attempts to set immigration policy. She expects the court to rule on the order by Friday.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.