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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Employer Sanctions Law is reckless

    Yesterday, representatives from Arizona’s business community continued their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona Employer Sanctions Law, which if approved will take effect in January, making it mandatory for business owners to verify the documentation of their employees.

    Under the Employer Sanctions Law, small-business owners will need to check a federal database that would ensure new hires are legal citizens. Penalties include a 10-day suspension of the business license of an employer who knowingly hires undocumented workers, on their first offense. The second offense results in a permanently revoked license.

    Off the bat, the law already punishes businesses and Arizona’s already- lackluster economy by keeping away potential investors, who don’t want to take the risk of a possible business suspension. Arizona business owners were right to follow a lawsuit against the new law, which was dismissed in court last Wednesday, when U.S. District judge Neil Wake said they could not show an immediate threat of prosecution. Too bad he didn’t dismiss the law on account of ambiguity.

    At the Pima County Administration building, 130 W. Congress St. , last week, lawmakers and government spokesmen demonstrated the lack of detail and development of the Employer Sanctions Law, as business owners expressed concern over being dumped with a task they feel is the federal government’s responsibility. Arizona State Sen.

    Since when is “”It’s not as bad as theirs”” an
    argument for legitimate government? While the voter initiative would have consequences more severe than the legislature’s law, it shouldn’t be used as justification to garner support for a bad law that will negatively affect the lives of so many people.

    Timothy Bee acknowledges that the legislation is still under consideration, but would rather keep it at the legislative level where it’s free from the corruption of voters who are trying to pass a harsher version of the law in the form of a ballot measure for next year’s election. That measure would immediately revoke the business license of employers who are found to be hiring illegal workers.

    Since when is “”It’s not as bad as theirs “” an argument for legitimate government? While the voter initiative would have consequences more severe than the legislature’s law, it shouldn’t be used as justification to garner support for a bad law that will negatively affect the lives of so many people.

    The outcome of the law will be announced next month; if it passes Arizona will likely set a national precedent,encouraging other states to adopt similar bills and creating more legal battles that further hold up successful U.S. immigration policy. Currently, the government has no plan to enforce the law, and it only requires business owners to verify the status of new hires. Does that mean that Joe, the construction company owner, should hire a bunch of workers before January, because he knows he won’t be able to find legal workers to do their job? And when he can’t, how will Tucson’s $2 billion-a-year home-building industry help manage growth?

    It may be tempting for Joe to do what he’s always done: ignore federal – and now state – law,and take the risk of hiring an illegal immigrant. When his business starts to suffer, it will be more of an option to consider, especially since the government has no system in place to verify whether or
    not business owners are using the federal database.

    In addition, Deputy County Attorney Daniel Jurkowitz, said his office will only investigate businesses that have federal complaints issued against them with the County Attorney’s Office. Who will issue the complaints? The Minute men? A nonpartisan citizen’s watch group? A Benedicto Arnold? They’re all valid guesses – because the government still hasn’t figured that part out yet either.

    However, government officials do know that once a formal complaint is made, and they can prove, without a doubt, that a business owner knowingly hired an illegal worker, they will be required to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    While the legislatures are trying to balance the public outcry in Arizona to crack down on illegal immigration, this new law demonstrates that concerns of Arizona’s business community – and therefore its sagging economy – are being neglected. Last July, a University of Arizona report estimated that Arizona’s economic output would drop $29 billion a year, if the roughly half a million illegal workers were removed. With Pima County being the number one border crossing point, expensive fences and irresponsible policy are only leading us toward irreversible, even if unintended, consequences.

    Yusra Tekbali is a journalism and Near Eastern studies senior and assistant news editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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