An alliance of 11 business and civic groups headed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform filed an appeal of last week's federal court ruling that upheld Arizona's tough new immigration law, one of the strictest in the nation.

Under the new law, business people in Arizona can have their licenses revoked on a second offense if they are found to have knowingly employed undocumented workers. The first offense calls for a 10-day suspension.

Julie Pace, an attorney for the business groups, said the judge ruled that the state law is not pre-empted by federal immigration law and that Arizona is within its rights to mandate that businesses use E-Verify, a computer system that authorizes the legal status of workers.

Pace said briefs are being prepared for an appeals case that will be held this spring in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the business groups filed a motion for an emergency stay, which would stop the law from moving forward until the appeals case is resolved.

The 37-page opinion by Judge Neil Wake was released late last Thursday. Judge Wake's decision to uphold the law was widely expected.

In his opinion, Judge Wake referred to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in De Canas v. Bica in which the court upheld a California law that prohibited employers from hiring aliens if the employment adversely affected lawful resident workers. The court held that federal law did not pre-empt California's law. The court also found in that case that states possess broad authority under their police powers to regulate employment and protect workers.

On E-Verify, Judge Wake ruled that the computer system did not impose an undue cost burden to businesses. According to the opinion, the average cost to set up E-Verify is $125, with 85 percent of employers spending $100 or less. The average annual operation cost for a business is $728.

Attorney Pace said that law enforcement officials in Arizona have pledged not to start prosecutions under the law until after March 1. Pace's advice to home builders: Get your immigration compliance documents in order now.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.