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Illegal employers

Battle brewing over (Arizona) employer sanctions lawsuit


By —— Bio and Archives--December 27, 2007

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The state Attorney General’s Office and Arizona’s 15 county attorneys are fighting with attorneys attempting to keep the names secret of employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants.

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The county attorneys and the Attorney General filed a motion Friday asking U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake to deny the business groups’ request to keep the names private.

“A strong presumption exists in favor of openness in court proceedings, including identification of parties and witnesses by their real names,” Attorney General Terry Goddard wrote in response to the request for secrecy. Anonymity is usually granted in cases where there is “highly sensitive” or private information, such as disputes involving abortion, mental illness, children, birth control and religion, he wrote. “Embarrassment or economic harm is not enough to justify anonymity,” he contended.

Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, the prime force behind the employer-sanctions law, objected to the attempt to keep the names secret.

“This is so egregious,” he said. “We all know what’s going on: They’re illegal employers.”

After years of employers saying they don’t knowingly hire illegal workers, Pearce said the sudden change of tune is jarring and should have consequences.

“They ought to be disbarred,” he said of the attorneys representing the business groups.

Revealing their identities could subject the employers to prosecution under federal law, the business attorneys said, which already makes it illegal to hire undocumented workers.

“The John Doe Members do not wish to invite prosecution of their businesses and themselves under federal law by identifying themselves in the state proceedings,” attorneys David Selden and Louis Moffa Jr. wrote in their request to keep the employer names confidential.

Judge Wake will consider the pleadings as he prepares for a Jan. 16 hearing on the merits of the sanctions law. Last week, Wake declined to block the law with a temporary restraining order, clearing the way for it to go into effect Tuesday.

The business and civil-rights groups fighting the law lost challenges earlier this month to block it.

From The Examiner


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