In court papers, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal argues that local governments are enacting laws on the employment of aliens that have "generated confusion" and "will continue to do so absent guidance from either Congress or this Court."
Katyal writes that provisions similar to the Legal Arizona Workers Act "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 no discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities legally in the country."
Immigration rights groups have joined with the business community to oppose the law.
"The confusing patchwork of immigration regulations doesn't solve our immigration problems, and instead makes it more difficult for employers to create jobs and grow the economy," said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center in a statement.
The case is being carefully watched as a possible precursor to another Arizona law that broadens police power to check for identification of suspected illegal immigrants. A challenge to that law could reach the high court in the coming terms.