The Scope of IRCA Preemption

Posted on Categories Labor & Employment Law

Scales Thanks to Ross Runkel for bringing to my attention this case from the 9th Circuit concerning whether the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA)  is preempted by Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).  In CPLC v. Napolitano (9th Cir 09/17/2008), the court examined LAWA, which allows state courts to suspend or revoke the business licenses of employers who knowingly or intentionally hire “unauthorized aliens.”  As Ross explains:

That act also requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system (an internet-based system that allows an employer to verify an employee’s work authorization status).


The 9th Circuit rejected various facial challenges to the Act, concluding (among other things) that it is not expressly preempted by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).  In reaching that conclusion, the court determined that the Act fell within the scope of the “savings clause” of IRCA’s express preemption provision as a “licensing law.”

So it seems that IRCA, like ERISA, recognizes federalism concerns by exempting certain types of state laws that have historically been in the domain of state regulation.

Cross posted at Workplace Prof Blog.

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