T Nation

Enforcement Against Employers in AZ


The state of Arizona has enacted a serious program of enforcement against the employers of illegal immigrants. Here is a brief look at how things are going so far.


[i]Migrants Self-Deporting In Arizona

Yesterday's Arizona Republic reported on an interesting phenomenon taking place as a new workplace identification law approaches implementation. Those workers with no documentation -- in other words, illegal aliens -- have begun to sell off their property and leave the state:


The immigration hard-liners appear to have proven one of their main arguments. Illegal immigrants who face a loss of employment due to strict employer sanctions will move elsewhere, and rather quickly. One talk-radio host that caters to what the Republic calls "undocumented immigrants" estimates that the departure rate has already hit 100 per day. It will likely increase until most of them depart before the end of the year, when their jobs will disappear.

Arizona passed employer sanctions with a particular bite. Rather than set up an escalating series of fines, which has been the federal approach, the state opted to put employers out of business. A first offense gets a ten-day suspension of the firm's business license, which would close the doors during that period. A subsequent offense revokes the business license permanently. Needless to say, that has provided an incentive to business owners to start checking identities through the federal database and terminating anyone who doesn't clear the system.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce heads a coalition that wants the law repealed based on a Constitutional challenge, but it's hard to see how they can succeed. The state can impose sanctions on business licenses it issues, and it can insist that employers check for worker eligibility. The real issue for the ACC is labor shortages. The state currently has an unemployment rate of 3.7%, statistically full employment. Arizona employers will have to raise wages to compete for workers, which will cost consumers more but allow for more money in the market as well. It also might prompt business to push for automation where possible, using technology to fill the gaps.

However, the state does have around 9% of its workforce comprised by illegals. They rent houses and apartments, shop for food, and consume just like anyone else does in Arizona. When they disappear, the state will undoubtedly suffer a hit to the economy, especially in housing, which could depress real-estate values in some areas. Some of the immigrants own houses, and they have to sell them fast, which has glutted the resale market in the state. Secondary markets like furniture and home improvement have slowed considerably in Arizona, too.

Proponents of federalism often refer to states as laboratories for political experiments. Arizona's efforts on employer sanctions will prove an interesting test case for employer-based immigration sanctions.[/i]


Stopping them from getting jobs is the only way to slow the flow. Good to see someone actually doing it.


I applaud this move. It is so simple after all. Don't give them jobs and they won't come. As for any kind of 'hit' to the economy, well I'd say it's a rather small price to pay for some thing that should have never happend in the first place. Besides when you live 20 to a dwelling and ride 15 to a truck, you economic impact is minimal. The fact that it's felt at all is a sheer testament to how many illegals there were.

I don't blame the illegals, they are just trying to make a better life for themselves. I can't fault them for that, I fault the dickheads trying to exploit cheap labor to the detriment of the rest of us.


Cheap illegal labor actually supresses wages for all classes of labor.

It's also a myth that people will not do the jobs they are doing. We would have close to full employment if the illegals were sent home.

I support legal immigration and I hire a lot of new arrivals at my company. They are all legal and they all bust ass to get ahead and make a start.


I like this for many reasons.

  1. employment: employers will be forced to operate at market levels. Goods may increase in cost, but only what the market will bear. Employees will be in greater demand, raising the wage they can ask.

  2. public services: this is a fact - illegal immigrants are an incredible drain on the health care system in Arizona. Include the fact that hospitals are overburdened with more patients than they can responsibly attend... the departure of undocumented immigrants will ease this burden.

This may just create an environment that could bring up the level of service in this critical system. Less people means a better chance for better care. I've been told horror stories of EMS, from first hand observation. It's time to end this culture of entitlement illegal people use.

  1. housing: their departure will depress the market. I'm sure realtors and home owners that paid way too much for their houses during the housing boom don't want to see it. But it will bring costs back to realistic levels.

  2. human traffiking: coyotes are a source of crime that nears slave trading proportions. Often, after making the border crossing (which is none too easy), they are cooped up in a house (up to and surpassing 30 individuals - with no facilities) and kept there for ransom.

Top this off with coyote wars, where these "entrepreneurs" shoot at one anothers' vans smuggling people up into Phoenix on the open highways. I've seen many stories of body strewn stretches of desert along the highways and out in no-mans land. It is inhumane and should be stopped.

I am sorry so many think this is the only way they have to live a decent life - coming into this country undocumented. I applaud Napolitano for this strong stance. I'd be in favor for easier obtaining of green cards, too.

Let them in legally, let them find jobs. Stop employers hiring, paying pennies on the dollar.

And that's my $0.02


Too bad it doesn't mean anything until all states take these measures. What is to stop an immigrant from going to another state where this isn't enforced? I suspect many of these people will be seeking out their kin in MN.


You're probably right, but, one big issue: we all, and this is probably even more true of poorer Americans, benefit substantially from the lowered price of many commodities made, built, picked, grown, etc. by illegal immigrants. I don't think it's healthy for us as a society to be relying upon an underclass of foreign laborers, but let's not underestimate the economic benefits.


Poorer Americans wouldn't be as poor if they were paid a living wage doing an honest days work instead ofan illegal immigrant earning a smaller wage to do the same work.

Factor into the mess it makes of our health care and social services and it is hard to tell if anyone benefits except the employer making a short term buck.


This is true -- but to the extent more states do so, there will be more pressure on those that do not -- just from the demographic shifts you describe.

Really, it should be a federal issue and a federal program.


The eternal economic question is how it balances out. Without the population of illegals, housing prices, which comprise the single biggest expense of most lower and lower-middle class households, would be lower due to a lower supply of renters/buyers. Wages for low- or no-skilled jobs would be higher -- or those jobs would be mechanized in certain areas.

On the other hand, prices for other commodities, food and cheap labor, would probably go up -- including a lot of the services that allow for two-worker households (see: http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/08/what_price_labor.php ).

I guess the question is how it all balances out. But, as Mickey Kaus put it( http://www.slate.com/id/2172992/#felix ),

Fewer immigrants = lower demand for housing. If you built your expectation of rising home values on that anticipated demand, and like much of the MSM you actually believed the Grand Bargainers' blustery predictions of success, then you've had to reassess your portfolio sharply downward, no? Just a thought. ... P.S.: Cheaper housing, coupled with higher wages for the unskilled. In the long run that sounds like a good combination, even if some of Jim Cramer's friends lose their jobs in the transition.


So they are leaving Arizona, and heading to the other lower 47 States? Something does need to be done about Illegal immigrants.

But its just not that easy, I wish it was. I am the son of two former Illegal immigrants, born in America, on taxpayers money, I wish I could pay it back somehow. I am a proud American, served in the military and had my folk obtain full citizenship.

I am glad Arizona is doing something but there just going to come here to Texas or somewhere else, right?
You know we should give full amnesty and then shut the damn borders down and make extreme laws in order to curb the migration from Mexico. There is no way to deport everyone back.
One could argue I should not even be here in the first place and be allowed this great freedoms, yet I feel blessed. We are privileged in America. I feel proud to have fought for those rights as well.

Come election time, we are going to see a ramping up by the politicians on immigration. It makes me sick, but once they get elected, they somehow forget about the obligations they spoke.

I apologize for the rambling as I only seem to post when I drink a few beers.

P.S. A small and unfortunate side note, 50 percent of the medical bill for Dallas County is for the care of illegal immigrants.( And 50 percent of them are Arabs, just an interesting fact you might like to know)


I have to disagree. I think this should be a states rights issue.

Federal programs never work. Arizona has Arizona as the chief concern. The other 49 states have the same right to employ the same, or similar programs.

Getting to the root of the problem will never be a chief goal of a federal government program. It never has been.

I say let's dust off the 10th amendment and give it a try.


I can only speak from the standpoint of agriculture, but the Fed sees to it that food prices are as low as possible through subsidies and price supports. It is not nearly the function of labor that some think, or want you to believe.


We'd benefit more from a secure border.


Border enforcement is inherently a federal responsibility. If they're failing to act, the states should certainly move to take their own action, as AZ has done. However, it would be more efficient and effective for the feds to make a comprehensive program of border enforcement and penalties for employers.

If people are worried about mass deportations or inherent unfairness, one way to mitigate would be to "grandfather" enforcement; i.e., the program would be selectively enforced against new hires from the date of passage. That wouldn't be at all different for most agricultural hiring, where they hire anew each harvest, but would spread out the impact otherwise.


If we look at the border as a defense/security issue then it is clearly a federal issue. One state cannot be expected to secure the border for the rest of the country's protection. I extend this idea to the northern border as well...let's not forget about those nasty Canadians trying to sneak across and steal our...women.


The article in the paper was about a legal alien and his illegal girlfriend were selling their house and moving back to Mexico, I do not think it has made an impact yet. There is also a liberal angle that is trying to undermine the law. I hope the law stands but time will tell.
Oh Hippies smell good:)


WRT illegal immigration - there are only 4 states out of 50 that have a border common with Mexico. Maybe federal funds could be used to enforce state border policy - but a federal border policy has never worked

The Federal Government has proven time and again they have no clue when it comes to a border policy. How many amnesty programs do we need before it becomes apparent that Washington needs no more chances to "fix" the problem? They are trying to fight fire with gasoline.


10 days is pretty harsh. How does this work if a jobsite hires a subcontractor and it is determined that the subcontractor used illegals?


Being someone that believes in States Rights... One state at a time, lifty. Often do we see California effect a regional change. Ideas as well as weather moves West to East.

Arizona has a bad problem. When other states observe a greater percentage of non-paying, undocumented patients flooding emergency rooms throughout the whole metropolis... they'll look to states that had this problem and how they fixed it. You make undocumented persons not welcome. The message will be heard in Mexico and parts further. If they know they can't find a job, because no one will hire them... they will not come.

This can work if it is accompanied with an improved worker / green card application and approval system. INS has done a poor job. Let the states take this over, too.