(WASHINGTON) -- It is rare in the immigration debate for big business to come together with civil rights groups to challenge the constitutionality of legislation.
But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has joined groups such as the National Immigration Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund in filing suit against the state of Arizona for a law that severely sanctions employers for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case.
The groups argue that the Legal Arizona Worker's Act, and similar legislation in other states, unconstitutionally conflict with existing federal law. The legislation is part of an emerging trend, as state lawmakers complain the federal government is not doing enough in its traditional role of immigration regulation.
The United State Justice Department has filed a brief in support of the groups, arguing that the state laws are generating confusion among employers and employees.
"Those provisions," writes Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, "disrupt a careful balance that Congress struck nearly 25 years ago between two interests of the highest importance: ensuring that employers do not undermine enforcement of immigration laws by hiring unauthorized workers, while also ensuring that employers do not discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities legally in the country."
In some cases the state law imposes harsher sanctions on employers than under federal law.
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