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Arizona State Immigration Laws

With the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and its signing into law, the state of Arizona ushered in one of the toughest immigration laws in the United States at the time. This section contains information on a number of aspects of Arizona's sweeping legislation and rules related to individuals' immigration status. However, it is important to be aware of the relationship and tension between state and federal law when it comes to immigration. Below you will find information on any existing rules Arizona has regarding immigration checks by law enforcement, educational institutions, and employers, as well as the existence of E-Verify requirements, restrictions on public benefits based on an individual's immigration status, and more. However, many of these provisions have been challenged in court and may be subject to blocks on their enforcement.

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Arizona

Arizona was one of the first states to mandate that state law enforcement officers run checks on the immigration status of individuals whenever "reasonable suspicion exists" that the person is unlawfully in the country. Officers are directed to verify the immigration with federal authorities, and if an individual is found to be illegally present, they will be transferred to the custody of federal immigration authorities. Last, but not least, under a federal program, all individuals arrested are fingerprinted and run through a database which checks their immigration status individually.

Employment Checks

As a starting point, under federal law, employers should refer to federal employment eligibility verification rules, as well as the requirements for Form I-9.

In addition, the "Legal Arizona Workers Act", Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) sections 23-211 to 23-214 prohibits employers from knowingly employing unauthorized workers. The potential penalties for violating these sections range from warnings to the permanent loss of any required business licenses. In addition, the state criminalizes illegal immigrants' application or solicitation for work.

Arizona E-Verify Requirements

The Legal Arizona Workers Act also requires that all employers in the state use E-Verify in order to prevent the employment of unauthorized workers. The Supreme Court of the United States recently upheld the Legal Arizona Workers Act over legal challenges claiming that it ran afoul of federal immigration laws. The Supreme Court ruled that Arizona's law fell within the authority left to the states by Congress on the subject.

Driver's License/ID Requirements

Arizona does not issue license to illegal immigrants and requires that every applicant for an original state ID card and/or driver license to show verification of birth date and proof of legal residency within the United States.

Public Benefits and Immigration Status

Under federal law, illegal immigrants are prohibited from receiving public benefits, although they are allowed to receive emergency services, health care, and other programs that have been identified as "necessary to protect life and safety."

Educational or Tuition Restrictions

Arizona prohibits state schools from offering in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants.

Voter ID Rules

Arizona law requires that voters present either a photo ID, or two forms from a list of valid acceptable documents bearing the name and address of the voter, such as a recent utility bill, bank or credit union statement, vehicle registration or insurance statement, and more. Also, voters who fail to provide valid or sufficient identification documentation can still vote using a provisional ballot, but will have to establish their eligibility to vote within business 5 days of the election.

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

Although efforts have been made in Arizona to prohibit renting to illegal immigrants, there is currently no statewide ban in existence. However, there have been increasing efforts at the local level across the country to bar renting to individuals residing in the country illegally. Such ordinances restricting access to housing typically face challenges in court, with varying results.

Other Immigration Rules

Arizona's legislation is a strict and comprehensive piece of immigration. Additional provisions of the law address a variety of matters, including:

  • prohibitions on the transport or harboring of illegal immigrants;
  • driving and impoundment of vehicles.

These are some, but not all areas covered by Arizona's immigration laws. As noted above, many provisions in these and other laws are currently subject to challenges in court and it may be some time before the law on these issues is clarified. For up-to-date and comprehensive information, you may wish to contact a local attorney specializing in immigration law.

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