On September 17, a federal appellate court upheld Arizona’s law requiring all employers to participate in E-Verify. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) was not preempted by federal immigration law and that the Act does not, on its face, deprive employers of due process since there is an opportunity for employers to be heard before sanctions are imposed. For more on this case, see the September 18 Arizona eAuthority.

E-Verify is a federal, voluntary electronic employment verification system operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In the absence of a federal mandate, several states have passed laws requiring certain employers to use the E-Verify system. Arizona’s law is the broadest of these state laws, requiring all employers to use E-Verify. LAWA provides for the suspension and revocation of the business licenses of Arizona employers that knowingly employ illegal immigrants, although there is no penalty for the mere failure to use E-Verify.

Thus, Arizona employers have clarification on the Act, which became effective on January 1, 2008. Although this decision is specifically applicable to Arizona’s law, the decision strongly suggests that other state laws and Governor-issued Executive Orders requiring certain employers to use E-Verify will be upheld as well. Accordingly, an employer will need to follow the developments in any state where it does business to confirm compliance with relevant employment verification requirements.

Note: This article was published in the September 2008 issue of the Immigration eAuthority.