Sonia Sotomayor on Immigration



OpEd: personal story is a classic immigrant struggle

While it is early in the effort to put Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, my sense is that if she does make it, the prospects for passing immigration reform this year will improve. The emphasis on her hard-scrabble roots, the classic immigrant struggle, her father who never spoke English, her own incredible success, is itself a deeply powerful repudiation of the other less than flattering narratives about Hispanic immigrants we've seen in the media these past few years.
Source: Simon Rosenberg on New Democratic Network (NDN) website , May 28, 2009

AZ law obstructs uniformity in immigration enforcement.

Justice Sotomayor wrote the dissent on CHAMBER OF COMMERCE v. WHITING on May 26, 2011:

The 1986 federal Immigration Reform and Control Act forbids state governments from sanctioning employers who hire "unauthorized aliens." The 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act authorizes State courts to suspend and revoke State-issued licenses, charters, etc. for businesses that knowingly hire "unauthorized aliens." The AZ law also requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system to determine the work eligibility of all employees.

HELD:Delivered by Roberts; joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Alito & Thomas

The federal law allows States to take licensing action. The word "license" includes the many forms of legal permission to perform an act, and therefore includes charters, articles of incorporation, etc. The AZ law relies only on determinations made by federal authorities of employment eligibility, and allows employers the same good faith defense as in federal law. Employers, in fact, must use the E-Verify system provided by the federal government.

DISSENT #1:Breyer dissents; joined by Ginsburg

The AZ law intrudes on Congress's balancing of
  1. immigration enforcement
  2. burdens on employers, and
  3. prevention of discrimination.
The meaning of "licensing" in the immigration law was never intended to mean every form of business permit that a State might issue, but only in regards to licensed employment agencies. Also, E-Verify is error prone and may not be relied upon.

DISSENT #2:Sotomayor dissents

This one poorly drafted clause in the federal immigration statute was only meant to allow States to take action against business licenses AFTER a successful federal government prosecution of a business for hiring an unauthorized alien. The AZ law runs contrary to the uniformity and expertise in enforcement of immigration law that Congress intended by allowing only federal officials to prosecute and rule upon civil and criminal cases.

Kagan recused herself.

Source: Supreme Court case 11-WHITING argued on Dec 8, 2010

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Other Justices on Immigration: Sonia Sotomayor on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(since 1993)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Anthony Kennedy(since 1988)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Feb 02, 2020