Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Judge refuses to block start of sanctions law on Jan. 1

PHOENIX – A federal judge on Friday refused to block the Jan. 1 implementation of Arizona’s groundbreaking new hiring law, which penalizes businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake denied requests for a temporary restraining order or an emergency injunction to block the sanctions law passed by the Arizona Legislature as a response to the influx of illegal immigrants into the state.

Wake’s order said the burden that the law would place on the challengers fighting its implementation “is far less than the harm that a pretrial declaratory judgment, styled as a temporary restraining order, would impose on others and on the public interest.”

He said the challengers hadn’t shown a likelihood of success, “much less a strong likelihood,” when their case eventually goes to trial.

Business interests and other advocacy groups challenging the law are expected to appeal Wake’s order to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Under the law, employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers can face suspensions of their business licenses for up to 10 days. Repeat violators would have their licenses revoked.

The law was enacted last June by the Republican-led Arizona Legis-lature and signed by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Supporters contend that the law’s implementation will gradually reduce the economic incentive for many illegal border crossers.

The challengers contend that the law has the state intruding on the federal government’s responsibility for immigration enforcement and is unfair to both employers and workers.

It also mandates that employers use a federal computer system to check Social Security numbers of new hires. Use of that system provides employers with a partial legal shield if it turns out workers who clear the computer check are later found to be unauthorized.

The challengers have already appealed a Dec. 7 ruling by Wake that dismissed an initial version of their lawsuits on the grounds that the proper officials were not included as defendants. The appeals included requests for emergency injunctions to block implementation of the law.

The challengers refiled their lawsuits after the Dec. 7 ruling, adding the county attorneys who would bear the main responsibility for enforcing the law. The previous lawsuit named only state officials as defendants.

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