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An increasing number of jurisdictions have seized upon the reasoning in the United States Supreme Court's decision Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB to deny undocumented immigrant plaintiffs recovery for lost future earnings at their projected earnings while living in the United States. However, a correct reading of Hoffman and understanding of its precedent reveals a narrow ruling confined to the field of federal labor law incapable of influencing the availability and distribution of damages in personal injury actions in Illinois state courts. Illinois common law currently grants undocumented plaintiffs the right to recover damages for amounts they would have earned while working in the United States. When determining whether this common law should stand, the dispositive question is whether this law can be reconciled with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which prohibits employers from hiring undocumented immigrants. Illinois common law as it stands, providing for the uniform disbursement of damages to documented and undocumented plaintiffs alike, can be reconciled with the IRCA under a principled constitutional preemption analysis.

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Northern Illinois University Law Review

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Patrick D. Kenneally, Fencing Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB out of Illinois Civil Courts, 28 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 59 (2007).

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