The “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (or Senate Bill 1070) was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23. The most controversial feature of SB 1070 authorizes and compels law enforcement officers to verify the legal status of persons reasonably believed to be illegally present in the country. The bill is scheduled to take effect on July 28, 2010.

Pursuant to SB 1070, employers must retain E-Verify verification records for the duration of a worker’s employment or three years (whichever is longer). E-Verify participation is required of Arizona employers under the Legal Arizona Workers Act (see the March 2010 issue of the Immigration eAuthority for more information). The new record retention requirement would presumably best be satisfied by printing an E-Verify screenshot which shows the case verification. Alternatively, employers may annotate the Form I-9 with the case verification number or use an electronic I-9 software which retains an electronic “paper trail” showing E-Verify completion. SB 1070 also provides employers with the affirmative defense to a state law charge of intentionally or knowingly employing an unauthorized worker if the employer can prove it was entrapped by law enforcement officials. In addition, SB 1070 makes stopping a motor vehicle to pick up and hire individuals for work a misdemeanor if the motor vehicle blocks or impedes traffic.

An amendment to SB 1070 designed to reduce the likelihood of racial profiling was passed one week later on April 30. House Bill 2162 limited the circumstances under which law enforcement officials should confirm an individual’s lawful immigration status. However, there were no significant changes to the employment-related provisions noted in the above paragraph. For the text of the final bill, see the Arizona State Legislature website.

In addition to the widely reported public protests and backlash against Arizona’s business community, the courts are already entertaining objections to SB 1070. Several lawsuits have been filed contesting the validity of SB 1070. Two lawsuits were filed on April 29 and another was filed by a group of interested organizations and persons including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on May 17. While awaiting the outcome of the litigation, Arizona employers are encouraged to keep the required E-Verify records (if not doing so already) by no later than the July 28 effective date. Non-citizen foreign nationals are encouraged to carry evidence of lawful immigration status, such as a Green Card or Passport with a valid I-94 card inside.