Business on the Border
Arizona gets tough on employers to solve its immigration problem.
By Terry Greene Sterling | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Dec 28, 2007 |
Eighteen years ago, when John Eisenhower opened his Scottsdale, Ariz., tree care business, he vowed to honor a 1986 federal law that prohibited hiring undocumented immigrants. The former Christian missionary named his company Integrity Tree Service Inc., but his decision not to hire undocumented workers quickly put him at a financial disadvantage. He chose to abide by the law, but his competitors hired undocumented immigrants for substandard wages and "made big money riding the backs of illegals," says Eisenhower, now 53. He survived by building a devoted clientele. Today his six to eight Latino and Anglo employees enjoy benefits and paid vacations, and his manual laborers earn up to three times the hourly rate that some companies pay their illegal workforce.
Now a controversial state law—with national implications—is slated to take effect Jan. 1 and promises to level the playing field for Eisenhower's company and thousands of other law-abiding Arizona businesses. The employer sanctions law imposes tough penalties on businesses that knowingly employ undocumented immigrants. First offenders may have their business licenses suspended for up to 10 days and must sign an affidavit promising not to hire undocumented workers in the future. Fail to comply, and companies could lose their licenses to operate altogether. What's more, the law requires all of Arizona's 150,000 companies to run new hires through a free online federal database that checks immigration status.
Foes of the law include immigrant rights activists and representatives of the construction, agriculture, hospitality and manufacturing industries, which employ large numbers of unskilled immigrant laborers. The law's opponents questioned its constitutionality in federal court, but that case was dismissed on Dec. 7. Then, on Dec. 21, Judge Neil Wake of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix cleared the way for the law to take effect on New Year's Day. Critics of the law received another blow recently, when the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco refused to grant an injunction aimed at preventing the law from taking effect.
Gov. Janet Napolitano, a moderate Democrat, became a target of criticism after she signed the law last July, after Congress had failed to reform federal immigration policy. Arizona is particularly hard-hit by illegal immigration woes, because its nearly 400-mile border with Mexico is the preferred gateway for most immigrants traveling north. An estimated 500,000 to 600,000 undocumented people live in Arizona, Napolitano says, and sanctioning employers who hire them is part of an overall strategy to fix a problem the feds have long ignored. "Without the federal government taking action, the states must move ahead," she tells NEWSWEEK. "If Arizona is a laboratory for democracy, then so be it."
The Arizona law has divided the state's business community. Some are already finding the law easy to live with. The Salt River Project, a Phoenix-based utility with about 4,300 employees, says it has run about 900 new hires through the database in the last 18 months without a major problem. Jolynn Clarke, the utility's manger of staffing, says the database check mandated by the new law is a quick and easy way to ensure that employees "really are who they say they are."
Other employers, particularly those that rely on low-skilled labor, are taking a different view. Critics say undocumented workers provide an essential workforce in a state with a relatively low unemployment rate of between 3 and 4 percent. "We are literally shutting down immigration, and as we shut down immigration, we shut down the economy," says Joe Sigg, director of government relations for the Arizona Farm Bureau, a statewide coalition of farmers and ranchers.
"This is law by hysteria," says John Augustine, whose family has farmed and ranched in Arizona since 1950 and employs about 150 workers. Augustine and other business owners have prepared for the law by retaining lawyers and auditors to review hiring and record-keeping procedures. He says his cotton and alfalfa farm doesn't hire illegal immigrants, but that doesn't mean the law won't affect his businesses. "I have a hard time finding labor now," he says. "Because there will be fewer people in the workforce, it will be even harder to find labor, and you'll pay more for it."
The law has already had a negative effect on some businesses, says Maria Arredondo, owner of Meubeleria Central, a Phoenix furniture store that caters to Latino immigrants—both legal and illegal. Customers started dwindling when news of the law first broke in the summer, and now Arredondo wonders how long she can survive. Prospective customers tell her they like her furniture and they like her prices, but they're saving their money in case they get deported. With little business income to make her home mortgage payments, Arredondo rented her house and moved with her three young children into the furniture store. "I am an American citizen," she says, "and I don't know how much longer I can hold on."
It's proving to be a difficult time for Latinos in Arizona. It didn't help that Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon recently shocked the Latino community by appointing a panel to explore whether the Phoenix police should regularly check for immigration status. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has arrested nearly 1,400 undocumented immigrants, with the blessing of County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Arpaio relies on state laws that outlaw human smuggling and federal laws that allow officers to check citizenship or residency status in the course of their duties, for instance a routine traffic stop. "We don't arrest randomly," says Lisa Allen, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. But immigrants fear they may be deported if they have even one traffic violation. And now the employer sanctions law looms.
"What you have is a slow-growing panic," says Alfredo Gutierrez, who was a state senator for 14 years and now owns a Phoenix-based lobbying firm and hosts a Spanish-language radio talk show. "You have a community feeling besieged," he says. "People are saving their money and waiting. They talk about leaving, but few have. The great and overwhelming majority of people are just going to stay here. They have very few resources to go check out jobs in places like Ohio."
In the near future, safe havens in other states may be hard to find. Arizona's law is viewed as a test case by other states, "trying to create order inside of chaos" caused by federal inaction, says Sheri Steisel, director of the immigration task force for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Steisel says state legislatures passed at least 244 laws related to immigrants and immigration in 2007, a three-fold increase over 2006. Although Arizona's new law imposes the toughest sanctions on employers, 19 other states passed measures related to employment of undocumented immigrants. Oklahoma now makes it a felony to harbor, transport or shelter illegal immigrants and, like Arizona, requires employers to verify immigration status through online databases.
Opponents of Arizona's law vow they'll continue to try block the law's debut on Jan. 1. Time, however, is not on their side.
"We are becoming a bilingual nation, and nobody is doing anything to try to stop it," Tancredo complained. "I agree that that is not a good idea."ReplyDelete
He said everyone in this country should speak "English only, all the time." I told him that because Colorado is a Spanish word, we would have to change the name of his state.
"We would have to call it Red," I said.
A little good sense comes to Arizona. Those that enrich themselves on the back of the poor and cheat on the competition calling Tancredo an 'extremist'. That's the word to use, if you want to muddy someone, these days.ReplyDelete
If you have time, you ought to get Planet Earth Diaries--really beautiful photography. Just watched two golden eagles-they hunt in pairs-take down a crane crossing the Himalayas, quite an air show.
Eso es verdad, Colorado es un otra palabra para rojo.ReplyDelete
Arizona is going purple, Ms Napolitano leading the Democrats to the Old American Order, taking up the challenge posed by the Bush Administration and it's abject rejection of controlling the frontier, for over seven years.
When the Democrats are more "right" than the Republicans, there is trouble in River City.
The folks often referred to as Reagan Democrats, they are going to gain in income and opportunity, here in AZ, thanks to Ms Napolitano. They know it, too.
That she was dragged to it, kickin' and screamin' not even mentioned. The lady no fool nor knave. She saw the wind blowing, got out in front of the whirlwind.
Still, not much budgeted for enforcement, the majority of the illegals, hunkerin' down for the duration. Headed to Cal-e-fornia, if they hit the hiway at all.
Lots of ink, not a single prosecution, yet. The Law taking effect, en la manana.
The first prosecution promised in the months ahead, by the Maricopa County Attorney.
Wombs for RentReplyDelete
The world's only fresh wate seal is found in Lake Baikal.ReplyDelete
I thought it meant colored, or painted, as in desierto colorado.
There was a General Rojo, or Rojos, that fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Wore round rimmed glasses.ReplyDelete
The Red DesertReplyDelete
Rojo is more commonly usedReplyDelete
Assembly line souls, Sam. Romantic, ain't it?ReplyDelete
Yes, something really wrong with that picture.ReplyDelete
More snow and very cold temperatures are expected at the higher elevations of Nevada County for the rest of the week.ReplyDelete
The National Weather Service is predicting a chance of snow at 7,000 feet and above through Sunday, with a likelihood of snow tonight.
The snowfall should further improve skiing conditions at Donner Pass area ski resorts. Sugar Bowl, Donner Ski Ranch and Boreal Mountain Resort already were reporting 36 to 48 inches of packed powder base Wednesday and expecting more.
Life becomes a choice, or a series of choices, from conception through gestation, just a mass of unviable tissue, beforehand.ReplyDelete
Not until birth is it human.
A travesty, I think, but the Law of our Land.
Inheritence and other family traits to be determined, just how?
And folks get all riled up over cloning, which is but a step beyond.
"Multiculturalism, a reality checkReplyDelete
We hear a lot about the virtues of multiculturalism these days—you know, openness to “the Other,” to “alternative social constructions,” to the rich and diverse tapestry of human experience. The multiculturalist tends to deprecate our Greek and Roman heritage as a dead-white-guy’s patrimony. The one classical tag he can be relied upon to have a soft spot for is Terence’s overquoted boast that “humani nihil a me alienum,” that “nothing human is alien” to him.
But what does multiculturalism look like on the ground, so to speak?
How do cultures committed to learning about and understanding others actually act?"
On the ground here, it simply means that children, and the gullible, are taught that all cultures are equal, except of course, ours, which is always guilty.
In practice, public schools are graduating semi-literate, innumerate, Science-poor skulls full of mush, and NOT graduating 50% of the students wherever Hispanics constitute a high proportion of the student population.
'Rat sees this leading to our continued dominance and prosperity, in defiance of common sense.
Bloomberg, a former Democrat who was elected mayor of New York as a Republican, left the GOP this past summer to become an independent. While disclaiming any plan to run for president in 2008, he has continued to fuel speculation by traveling widely and speaking out on both domestic and international issues.ReplyDelete
The mayor, a billionaire many times over, presumably could self-finance even a late-starting candidacy.
"As mayor, he has seen far too often how hyperpartisanship in Washington has gotten in the way of making progress on a host of issues," said Bloomberg's press secretary, Stu Loeser. "He looks forward to sitting down and discussing this with other leaders."
Bloomberg gives me the willys, but I couldn't tell you why.ReplyDelete
DNA Construct Your Baby, Inc., the coming thing, buy your shares at the initial offering. That gives me the willys too.ReplyDelete
He's jewish. Is that why?ReplyDelete
Former Oklahoma Sen. David Boren, one of the co-hosts of the meeting, told The Washington Post the meeting was not called to encourage any one person to run.ReplyDelete
But in an interview with the Times Boren said he would "be among those who would urge Mr. Bloomberg to very seriously consider running for president as an independent" if the current candidates are not able to take a bipartisan approach to the nation's problems.
The Times said in private conversations Bloomberg has discussed his interest in running.
So's Ed Koch. I love him, so Lieberman. So's my lawyer, and my dad's old partner. So was Jesus too. Nah, that isn't it.ReplyDelete
Ron Paul set to surprise in New Hampshire.
But everyone agrees Mr. Paul draws an unusual mix of libertarians, fiscally conservative democrats, conservative republicans, home schoolers, vegans, gambling aficionados, antiabortion activists, and others who just want the government to butt out of their lives.
It might be because I've never seen him laugh. Never trust a man that doesn't laugh. And if he does laugh, still be wary.ReplyDelete
Michael Savage uses RICO to sue CAIRReplyDelete
Excellent. The government used RICO against the Catholic Church. Fair is fair, for CAIR.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
"Never trust a man that doesn't laugh. And if he does laugh, still be wary."ReplyDelete
LOL! You've got to stop that or I'll have start wearing dippers soon.
#66 Swedish Sexual Liberation Party of America.ReplyDelete
#69 Loosen those folks in Iowa up a bit.
re: man who doesn't laugh.ReplyDelete
Kind of like Putin.
The way ahead will not be easy. Inevitably, there will be more tough days and tough weeks.ReplyDelete
Unforeseen challenges will emerge. And success will require continued hard work, commitment, and initiative from all involved.
As we look to the future, however, we should remember how far we have come in the past year. Thanks to the tireless efforts and courageous actions of the Iraqi people, Iraq's political and military leaders, the Iraqi Security Forces, and each of you, a great deal has been achieved in 2007.
If you are able to read the cloud formations, varieties of thunder and lightning, rains, winds, earthquakes, and other natural phenomena, perhaps you can divine the coming elections, and other events from this Overcast Rorschach Test gniteReplyDelete
Dangit, Here Mammatus Clouds Over Mexico. You can work with the other too.ReplyDelete
If you're able to read the sun, you're able to read the force that will give rise to them cloud formations. ;)
He's a Frigging Fascist, that's why!ReplyDelete
They've got more intrusive laws than anyplace in the country, thanks to Herr Bloomberg.
It's that classic deal where you go so far around the circle on the liberal side, that you pass over into the fascist sector.
...were just doing this for you, of course
IBM to Buy Israeli Startup For $300 MillionReplyDelete
International Business Machines Corp (ibm.n) is in advanced talks to buy Israeli start-up XIV Information Systems for $300 million to $350 million, financial daily Globes reported on Monday.
XIV officials declined to comment.
According to Globes, XIV has developed a system that replaces conventional storage technologies through the use of grid technology and less expensive hardware.
The front page of the NYTimes has a scary video on Morrocan Prisons the number of releasees that bomb again, and the Islamic Recruitment that takes place.ReplyDelete
Cut short, unfortunately.
Now begin the stories of economic dislocation, of citizens that have built businesses dependent upon the tens of thousands illegals that have taken up residence, here in the desert. Oh the heartbreak, the broken dreams.ReplyDelete
Those illegals that are already employeed recieve a pass, as the employeers need not do retroactive identity checks and the Maricopa County Attorney is going to focus upon new hires. This being where the employeer is forced into a type of self incrimination.
How this law will effect the day laborers I'm not quite sure. The masses of humanity that stand on the street corners, waiting for their $10 per hour opportunity.
Mr Bloomberg, a mega money man, making the Bhutto family of Pakistan appear to be paupers by comparison. His knowledge of media markets and group think, head and shoulders above the rest of the politicos.
His personal communication skills appear to be respectable, as he has garnered positive press while Mayor of the Big Apple.
Northeast liberals, trying to buy their way into the White House.
In a three-way race, the Huckster, Hillary and Bloomberg ...
The Huskster wins by a hair, with about 40% of the votes? I just do not see either of the New York liberals carrying the South vs the minister.
If Rudy, Hillary and Bloomberg all were to run, it be a something to see. A New York state of mind.
Romney, Hillary, Bloomberg heaven only knows how'd that would shake out.
Drop Obama into the Hillary slot, golly ... that'd be a disaster for the Democrats, if Bloomberg really stepped in.