September 17, 2008

A U.S. appeals court Wednesday upheld an Arizona law that targets employers who hire illegal immigrants by revoking their licenses to do business in the state.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals noted that the 2007 law, which has not been enforced, arose from “rising frustration with the United States Congress’s failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform.”

Some 12 million illegal immigrants are believed to live in the United States; many work with false papers and the issue of what to do with them has become a political hot potato.

It was not immediately clear whether Arizona would now begin enforcing the law or if its opponents would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a plaintiff in the suit, said the court expressly left open the possibility of further challenges if and when it was enforced.

Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard welcomed the ruling, and said his office would “continue to defend the statute should there be an appeal to the highest court.”

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