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  • Regulating Immigration at the State Level: A Focus on Employment

    In light of the failure of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level in recent years and in the face of increasing concern about the impact of illegal immigration on local communities, many state, county, and local lawmakers have enacted their own laws and ordinances aimed at the undocumented population and the entities that employ them. Some laws address the employment of undocumented workers by requiring employers to utilize the federal E-Verify Program to verify the work status of new hires. Others prohibit employers from hiring unauthorized workers and punish noncompliance with the denial of business licenses or contracts for work with a state, county, or municipality. Of course, it is already a violation of federal law to employ undocumented non-citizens, so any penalties for these violations are in addition to penalties already set out under federal law. These state laws raise troubling preemption issues that will only be resolved once the Supreme Court weighs in.