[JURIST] Prosecutions under a new Arizona law aimed at preventing employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive] will not begin until after March 1, according to an agreement reached in federal court Wednesday. The delay will allow US District Court Judge Neil V. Wake time to evaluate the federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] challenging the controversial Legal Arizona Workers Act [AZHB 2779 text, PDF; Arizona Republic backgrounder]. The lawsuit was filed [JURIST report] in December 2007 by a coalition of civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) [advocacy websites]. A bipartisan group of legislators have introduced a number of bills which would amend the most controversial aspects of the law such as whether it applies to current employees or only those hired after January 1.
The Legal Arizona Workers Act, which went into effect on January 1, allows the Superior Courts of Arizona to suspend or revoke the business licenses of businesses that intentionally or knowingly employ illegal immigrants. Under the law, employers will be required to check the legal status of new hires using E-Verify [DHS backgrounder], a free online federal program that checks names and identification documents to determine employment eligibility. Wake dismissed [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] an earlier lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against the new law filed by the ACLU and other civil rights groups, holding that that suit was premature because the law had not gone into effect and no one had been harmed. When Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the legislation [JURIST report] in July, she called the law "the most aggressive action in the country against employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented workers." The Arizona Republic has more.