Decision Holds Little Predictive Value on SB 1070

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that penalizes employers who fail to follow state law on the hiring of undocumented immigrants. Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision:

"Today's regrettable decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting is a tortured product of judicial activism responding to perceived political views of the moment. The majority proclaims itself unable to find implied preemption of an Arizona law that plainly impedes a federal scheme of exclusive enforcement of longstanding immigration-related employment law, and then, with a facile shift, easily finds an implied permission for Arizona to mandate E-verify, a power that Congress denied the federal government itself. All of this is accomplished through providing talismanic significance to the word 'licensing' even though Arizona's use of the term violates any plain-language or historical understanding of the term."

"Despite this egregious outcome, today's decision provides little predictive value as to the constitutional issue of preemption with respect to Arizona's SB 1070 and similar laws recently enacted in other states. Laws that encroach on exclusive federal immigration enforcement by mandating or permitting untrained local police officers to engage in racial profiling will find little refuge in today's decision. Wise state and local lawmakers must continue to tread carefully in areas touching on immigration. As has been the case for well over 200 years, federal action remains the sole legitimate avenue to address immigration issues."

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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