A coalition of students and legal scholars has proposed that the 10 University of California campuses hire undocumented students. They are challenging federal immigration laws that prohibit the hiring of undocumented persons by U.S. employers, based on a new legal interpretation by constitutional and immigration scholars that argues that these laws do not apply to states. The University of California system is the third-largest employer in the state of California, so any such decision would have significant impact.

A sign-on letter that sets out the legal aspects of the proposal says:

[T]he core argument is as follows. The federal prohibition on hiring undocumented persons as a general matter is codified in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, or IRCA, in particular 8 U.S.C. § 1324a. Under governing U.S. Supreme Court precedents, if a federal law does not mention the states explicitly, that federal law does not bind state government entities. Nothing in 8 U.S.C. § 1324a expressly binds or even mentions state government entities.

According to observers, implementation would be likely to lead to lawsuits, fines, and political pushback, especially with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program purportedly on the chopping block.

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