Cameron O’Toole, a college student at Arizona State University with a major in journalism, wrote the following article about the implementation of that state’s Legal Arizona Workers Act, and with his permission I am posting it here. He says that as of the end of March, only 15% of employers were using the E-Verify system which is required to verify legal status of employees.
His article in full:
It was designed to curb the illegal immigration problem Arizona has. It was supposed to be an easy and quick way to check eligibility status for potential employees. The E-Verify system was supposed to be a requirement for all business owners to use. But as of March 31, 2008 only 15 percent of Arizona’s registered employers were using the system, according to immigrationbuzz.com.
Some employers like Red, White and Brew, a restaurant in Chandler, have not had any major issues with the legislation.
“I was dialing in social security numbers before anyways so it was a very easy transition for me,” said Greg Freed, general manager and owner of Red, White and Brew. “There was so much notice before it happened and we have made sure that our initial hiring practices help us deal with any problems.”
Effective Jan. 1, 2008 Arizona implemented the Legal Arizona Workers Act which aimed at keeping illegal immigrants out of the state’s workforce. The legislation penalizes businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers by suspending or revoking their business license, according to azcentral.com.
This means that 10 percent of Arizona’s workforce will no longer be eligible for employment, as estimated by the Pew Hispanic Center.
However other businesses have had problems. The E-Verify system was discredited when it was discovered that nearly 3,200 of foreign-born U.S. citizens were denied working eligibility due to an error in the system. Approximately 93 percent of the workers that are checked don’t experience any problems, but the remaining seven percent make up part of the issue with E-Verify, according to wwwwakeupamericans.com.
Pending legislation also meant that any prosecution of the employee sanctions law had been postponed until March 1, according to azcentral.com
The E-Verify system is only required for new employees and that means there could still be illegal immigrants in Arizona’s workforce.
“Probably 40 to 50 percent of my kitchen is [of Mexican descent] and English is their second language, but I am not legally allowed to check them because they were employed before the law,” Freed said. “But I’m not afraid of [The Legal Arizona Workers Act] because I’m confident we don’t have any [illegal immigrants] working here.”
Prior to ratification of the law, the effects were very apparent in the fourth quarter of 2007. The apartment-vacancy rate in the Phoenix metropolitan area reached 11.2 percent, which is more than a two percent increase from the previous year’s same term. Jobs in the construction industry also absorbed an 8.6 percent employee decline from the previous year, according to The New York Times.
With immigration stances dominating the recent political scene, including the upcoming presidential election, both sides of the issue have received support. Some believe that the U.S. as well as other world powers would not be as influential without the help of illegal immigration.
Peter Rousmaniere operates workingimmigrants.com and offers the side of the immigration story that he believes nobody is telling. Problems with the way the Legal Arizona Workers Act is enforced as well as the nature of it has led him to oppose the legislation that Arizona has approved.
“This is a chaotic and cruel way of mismanaging immigration. There is a high level of immigrant labor in many different countries, it just looks like it’s only involving the U.S. and Mexico,” said Rousmaniere. “The U.S. is part of a worldwide systemic problem that is in other countries like France, Italy, Canada, and Australia.”