The US Supreme Court’s AZ Immigration Decision Could Spell Trouble For The Construction Industry

By now you're heard the news that the United States Supreme Court has upheld the controversial Arizona immigration law allowing states to shut down businesses that hire illegal workers. A pointed summary of law's effects is found in the above-linked WSJ article:
The Legal Arizona Workers Act requires employers to use a federal system called E-Verify to check employees' legal status. It says the state can revoke charters or licenses from employers that repeatedly hire noncitizens lacking work permits. Signing the legislation in 2007, then-Gov. Janet Napolitano called it the "business death penalty."
The Supreme Court's decision adds fuel to the E-Verify debate, which we have discussed on this blog in exhausting detail.  The E-Verify system is currently very confusing to contractors. Regulations previously promised to make it mandatory, and those were abandoned two or three times, with the system now being mostly voluntary.  There are, however, exceptions, as it is required on certain federally funded projects, and on all projects in Mississippi, South Carolina, and Arizona.  It is required on state projects in Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina. The consequences of not following the E-Verify requirements can be severe (see the AZ "death penalty" law), and unfortunately, most contractors are just flat-out confused about how to use the system, when to use it, and what to do when if something turns up about an employee when using it. The USSC's sanction of the AZ law demonstrates just how severe penalties for non-compliance can be, and it confirms that the federal government and states can fight illegal workers by penalizing the businesses for using illegal labor. State legislation and federal legislation targeting businesses is likely to follow this big decision. Ensure you don't get penalized by getting informed and active with the E-Verify program immediately.
Scott Wolfe
About the Author: Scott Wolfe
Scott Wolfe, Jr. obtained his J.D. degree from Loyola University of New Orleans, and his B.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. In 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, Scott was recognized as a Leader in Law by CityBusiness Magazine. The son and grandson of general contractors, Scott is a construction litigator in the Pacific Northwest, and the founding member of the bi-coastal law firm, Wolfe Law Group. Scott is also the founder and CEO of Express Lien, Inc., a legal document preparation service for contractors. In 2008, City Business Magazine recognized Scott as one of its Innovators of the Year for the Express Lien concept. As an entrepreneur himself, Scott has a strong background in business and commercial transactions and laws. He focuses his practice on the legal issues facing the construction industry, and has represented clients in multi-million dollar construction disputes in litigation and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Scott is a LEED AP.

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