Supreme Court to Hear Two Cases Affecting Immigrants, Including a Case Challenging a Recent Anti-Immigrant Law

Written by on October 7, 2010 in Immigration Courts, State and Local with 6 Comments

This week, the United States Supreme Court opened its October session. Among the cases it will hear is a challenge to a state law that sanctions employers for hiring unauthorized workers. This is the first case challenging the recent influx of state and local laws attempting to regulate immigrants and immigration and an opportunity for the Supreme Court to assert the federal government’s constitutional right to set immigration law. In the second immigration case, the Supreme Court must decide whether former citizenship law provisions—which imposed a five-year residency requirement for U.S. citizen fathers, but not mothers—violate equal protection.

In Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, the petitioners, various businesses and civil rights organizations, argue that a 2007 Arizona statute is unlawful because it is preempted by federal immigration law, specifically, provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). As the petitioners explain in their brief to the Court,

[i]n IRCA, Congress created a comprehensive scheme for regulating the employment of aliens, including the methods by which to verify a job applicant’s eligibility for employment. It balanced multiple, sometimes competing, objectives: deterring illegal immigration, protecting applicants from discrimination, accommodating privacy concerns, and minimizing burdens on employers.

Yet, the Arizona statute disrupts this uniform scheme and unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority to devise a comprehensive system governing immigration-related employment. The Obama Administration agrees and has filed a brief supporting the challengers in this case. The American Immigration Council, along with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Immigrant Justice Center, also filed a brief in support of the challengers detailing the complexity of the federal system and the burdens employers, workers, and practitioners will face if the states are allowed to adopt competing schemes.

Numerous states and localities have enacted laws attempting to regulate immigration law. These laws include another, more expansive Arizona statute (SB 1070), and the Hazleton, Pennsylvania ordinance, both of which lower courts have struck down. Numerous other states and localities are considering such laws. Thus, Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting comes at a critical juncture. The Supreme Court must send a clear message that the states are not allowed to usurp the federal government’s power and upset carefully developed schemes. While our federal immigration system may be in need of reform, creating a patchwork of state laws attempting to regulate immigration is not the solution.

The Supreme Court also will hear a second case with implications for immigrants. In Flores-Villar v. United States, the Court will look at former provisions of the citizenship laws and whether they violate equal protection. These provisions imposed a five-year residence requirement, after the age of fourteen, on U.S. citizen fathers—but not on U.S. citizen mothers—before they may transmit citizenship to a child born out of wedlock abroad.

The petitioner in Flores-Villar was born in Mexico to a U.S. citizen father and a noncitizen mother. He grew up in the United States and his father subsequently filed an acknowledgment of paternity in Mexico. The petitioner was later deported from the United States and thereafter criminally charged with illegal reentry when he returned. As a defense to the criminal charge, he contends that he is a United States citizen. He argues that because the citizenship laws required five years of residency for U.S. citizen fathers, but a less demanding residency requirement for U.S. citizen mothers, the law makes an unlawful classification on the basis of gender. This case has implications not only on immigration cases, but potentially on gender discrimination claims in other contexts as well, and thus provides the Court an opportunity to clarify that unsustainable gender-based classifications cannot stand, regardless of the context in which they arise.

Photo by SP8254.



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  • Janet Napolitano: I would like to ask her about immigration laws apposing with civil and family laws. you are not authorized to be employed in the united states However you are demanded to pay you are your supports and demands other wise a warrant arrest will be issued. Have you ever heard about a person that doesn’t exist?. Give work authorization to people in the united states and you will get these monies in govermental taxes and fees. maybe it will raise the treasury funds enough for you guys to lower taxes on our gas and ciggeretes so we can all be good fathers and good mothers. we live in the country of peace, and when the government falls us people help eachother. allow people to work so you can collect your money, and we can all live in peace. when people work they seem to keep out of trouble. Please allow fathers to work to bring up well brought up children.

  • who are the future of the united states. Lets focus on there education and health needs, instead of focusing on a desperate hard working father. trust brings trust. Give people one more chance to live legally. give them a path. processing dates for immigration cases can vary between 4 months and 10 years. children can’t wait. they need to eat.

  • I know a man who was waiting for about 25 years for his paperwork to go through.

    The immigration situation is sad when you hear about it for the first time, when you learn about it you find that you are dealing with a labyrinth of issues that is both frustrating and comical,but a parody when it involves starving children.

    Mohammed what is peace when you are hungry and afraid of ICE?

  • TITO

    I have a really good friend wich I grew up with. He was brought from Mexico not knowing that he was breaking a US federal law because a that time he was only 2 years of age. He grew up his parents wich worked in the fields of Californial did not have the education or the parenting skills to raise and educate their son about addiction. He got involved in using, his PERMANENT USA residency was stripped away from him, deported to Tijuana without knowing any one at the age of 19, bearly speaking any spanish. Ofcourse he ended up crossing the border back to the US, no trouble at all since he is a well english spoken kid. To make the long story short, because of his family needs his parents had to work 6 days a weedk 12 hr days to support their family of 9 and my friend got left out in the dark to suffer his addiction. As a strong man he grew up out of his addiction, raised his family. Know he has 3 beautiful kids a mortgaage, all his folks are citizens, brothers, siters, mother everyone but him. He actually takes time and goes out and voluteers on salvation army homes and talks about the great mistake he did by trading his citizenship for the a disease call addiction. I just pray that some day a new law will come to help people like my friend that never had a choice of coming here to the U>S because he was only 2 yrs old, and a teenage mistake ruined his life, he is actually planning to move to Canada since he doesn’t have any family or business left in Mexico. But I do tell you if he a chance to fight for our great country in war, he be in front, he does love this country dearly. but he also does not want to be here illegal.

  • Mohammed

    Victoria. Not eating and getting hungry is one thing. Not being able to work legally to pay your child support, and alimony, and all of the normal bills that everyone has is another. I do not know a man. I have been been admitted to the united states at the age of 11. I am now a 33 year old father with many responsibilities, and still are waiting. I am not telling a story that I heard. I am telling a story that I am living. If the united states government does not do something about an immigration reform, we will all fall. Our children will fall, and that is the beginning of a falling future. when you are doing anything wrong, and you don’t want to do anything wrong, you are not afraid to speak your words. I am yelling, and screaming to anyone who can do anything about this. I have contacted the congressman. I have contacted the homeland security. I have made an appointment with Ins, and walked inside with my own two feet. Now I am desperately screaming to the public. Please allow people to have a legal job, so they can pay there taxes, and child support, and alimony, and every single responsibility that every single american has. My daughter will be 4 years old and school will start, and I am damn sure do not want to give my self excuses of not being able to provide her with the dream that got stolen from me, because of politics. Not every Muslim is a terrorist. Not every Arab is a terrorist. Do not apply laws as a whole. The reason I am capable of speaking my words today, is not because I am brave, but because I have learned that in the united states I can say my words, with out having to be afraid of threats. I am very disappointed and ashamed of where we are today on this topic. The united states is only strong because of the people that live in it. I am one of those people, who are educated and supports education. in all of its forms.

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