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Supreme Court upholds Arizona immigration law

Immigrants, activists and supporters of illegal immigrants rally against a new Arizona law outside of Federal Plaza in New York City.

Kai Ryssdal: Hiring undocumented immigrants just got more expensive. From the United States Supreme Court today came a ruling that upholds an Arizona law on illegal workers. The Justices said companies can be required to use a federal database to verify somebody's status. And companies can be punished for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler has the details.


Jeff Tyler: The Supreme Court says states can use their licensing laws to punish employers. In Arizona, this is known as the 'business death penalty,' where a license is revoked if a business hires undocumented workers.

Mark Krikorian is with the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tighter immigration policies.

Mark Krikorian: It's repeated violations of the law that result in their business license potentially being yanked. And, frankly, they deserve it.

On a practical level, businesses in Arizona have already been operating under the law for four years. Glenn Hamer is president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He says Arizona companies are now in the habit of using the federal eVerify database to check employment eligibility.

Glenn Hamer: Arizona companies use eVerify at least on a per-capita basis at a greater percentage than any other state.

The Supreme Court decision may have a bigger impact outside of Arizona. Hamer expects other states will draft similar laws requiring all employers to check the eVerify system when hiring workers.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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