Posted on August 31, 2010

U.S. Files New Suit on Ariz. Immigration Issue

Jerry Markon, Washington Post, August 31, 2010

The Justice Department filed another lawsuit against immigration practices by Arizona authorities, saying Monday that a network of community colleges acted illegally in requiring noncitizens to provide their green cards before they could be hired for jobs.

The suit against the Phoenix area Maricopa Community Colleges was filed less than two months after the Justice Department sued Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer (R) over the state’s new immigration law. It also comes as the department is investigating Joe Arpaio, the sheriff in Maricopa County, who is known for tough immigration enforcement.

In Monday’s lawsuit, Justice officials said the colleges discriminated against nearly 250 noncitizen job applicants by mandating that they fill out more documents than required by law to prove their eligibility to work. That violated the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, the department said.

The law’s anti-discrimination provision “makes it unlawful to treat authorized workers differently during the hiring process based on their citizenship status,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He said the government “is acting now to remedy this pattern or practice of discrimination.”


It is the latest example of stepped-up enforcement by the department’s Civil Rights Division, which has been reshaping itself after an exodus of lawyers during the Bush administration. It filed a similiar lawsuit in April against John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

The lawsuit {snip} filed on behalf of Zainul Singaporewalla, a U.S. permanent resident who was offered a math teaching position at Glendale Community College, part of the Maricopa network.

After filling out a federal form attesting to his immigration status and producing a driver’s license and Social Security card, he was told to complete another form with more immigration-related information, the lawsuit said.

That form required other documents and his green card. When he couldn’t present his green card, the suit said, the college would not process his paperwork and would not let him work.