Monday, January 07, 2008

Court will hide ID of illegal immigrant employer

From Gene Caferelli
January 4, 2008 - 11:22PM

Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

A federal court will keep secret the identity of an Arizona business owner who admits in a sworn statement to hiring illegal immigrants.

The business owner, who remains anonymous, has filed an affidavit in federal court saying he was employing people not in this country legally last year when the lawsuit was filed, and he intends to continue to do so even with the new state law that took effect Jan. 1.

That law allows a judge to suspend or revoke any state licenses of firms that knowingly hire undocumented workers.

Attorney David Selden, who represents businesses challenging the law, said the purpose of the affidavit was to prove to U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake that the law will harm at least one company.

The judge had previously indicated he might not be able to rule on the validity of the law without some proof someone could get in legal trouble for disobeying it.

Selden said the move is justified because the business owner faces both the threat of prosecution if his identity becomes known, as well as the possibility of actual physical harm.

But the move drew objections from state Solicitor Gene ral Mary O’Grady, who said it is improper to let an unidentified person challenge state law. She asked Wake to quash the effort.

On Friday, though, the judge suggested he would simply sidestep the issue.

Wake pointed out that the state essentially has now agreed that the business groups challenging the law do, in fact, have legal standing to ask him to overturn it. That, he said, may make it unnecessary for him to rule on Selden ’s effort to introduce the affidavit.

O’Grady said she is studying Wake’s latest ruling.

Two other business owners also filed “John Doe” affidavits in the case. Selden said neither business owner has admitted to hiring illegal immigrants, but both assume there may be some on their payroll.

The lawsuit contends the state law is unconstitutional because only the federal government is empowered to punish companies for employing workers not legally entitled to work in this country.

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