HSPRD has filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Southern Poverty Law Center, National Immigration Law Center, and 28 other worker and immigrant rights organizations urging the Court to hold that a Kansas identity theft law cannot be used to turn local law enforcement into immigration agents.
The Kansas law undermines the federal government’s exclusive authority over the prosecution of people for falsifying information – such as a name, birth date or Social Security number – on Form I-9, which is used to verify that an individual is authorized to work in the United States. Kansas’ law allows the state to prosecute workers for using falsified I-9 information when it is used in other documents, such as state tax forms, leases and employment applications – giving employers a powerful threat against immigrant workers who resist illegal working conditions. The brief describes how the Kansas law not only encourages local law enforcement to assume a federal responsibility – verification of employment authorization – but provides employers with a means to exploit workers. By threatening undocumented workers with prosecution, employers could force all workers to endure workplace abuse.
“Expanding the role of states and local authorities in immigration enforcement not only undermines federal law, but shifts focus away from employer conduct, allowing employers to exploit workers and creating unfair competition for employers who comply with worker protection laws,” said Chirag Badlani, one of the HSPRD attorneys who authored the brief. “Federal law is clear that workers who assert their rights against workplace abuse should not face retaliation, including threats of prosecution.”
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case this fall.