Self-Mutilation

AZ's new employer-sanctions law will hurt workers, employers, and the economy, in what can only be seen as a massive self-inflicted wound

Jornaleros rise early. At the crack of dawn on a cold Sunday morning, there are about 30 or so day laborers milling about at the Macehualli Work Center near 25th Street and Bell Road, drinking coffee and waiting for jobs. And while I wait with them, immigrants-rights activist Salvador Reza — the guy who runs the place — explains the origins of the camp's name.

"Macehualli means 'those who deserve honor for their work,'" the 56-year-old informs me. "It's Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. It's from a time and place when work was prestigious, and honored."

He looks around at those sitting at picnic tables under tarps, standing out in the still-pale sun, or checking on the gated blue shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which sits at the heart of Macehualli.

"These guys here, they maintain the lawns and the landscaping," he says, speaking not only of those present, but those who congregate in greater numbers during the week. "They built City Hall, and most of the developments in the area. Yet they are persecuted, berated. You've seen how we're treated at demonstrations."

Indeed, I have. Many times, I've been down to observe the clashes at M.D. Pruitt's Home Furnishings, near 35th Street and Thomas. Reza and his supporters have been boycotting Pruitt's, protesting store owner Roger Sensing's decision to have Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies on his property and in the area. Arpaio's officers have arrested scores of alleged illegals, some jornaleros, some who just happen to have been driving while brown.

But I'm not looking to rehash the persistent ugliness at Pruitt's. Like when Roger Sensing had manure spread on the sidewalk in front of his store, and asked Reza, sarcastically, if he could find workers to help Sensing plant flowers in the dung. Or the time a nativist referred to dancing Mexican-American children as "monkeys."

Rather, I'm interested in how Arizona's new employer-sanctions law will affect the men and women Reza serves, who donate a dollar toward the Macehualli camp's upkeep for each job they snag from employers who drive into Macehualli's parking lot seeking laborers.

Much has been written about how Arizona's business community is praying itself to sleep at night, hoping a federal judge issues a temporary restraining order and stops the legislation from inflicting a mortal blow to the state's still-enviable economy. The Wall Street Journal recently gave these nightmares front-page treatment, quoting University of Arizona immigration expert Judith Gans as stating, "Getting rid of [undocumented] workers means that we are deciding as a matter of policy to shrink the economy."

Ask Arizona Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Glenn Hamer, former executive director of the state Republican Party, and he'll tell you it's not a matter of whether the state's economy is about to sustain a self-inflicted wound, but whether the limb will be sliced off at the kneecap or higher.

"It's a question of degree, the effect this law will have on the state's prosperity," Hamer tells New Times. "Of the almost 100 years Arizona's been in existence, if you had to describe in one word the master state plan, it would be 'growth.' This new policy is a contractionary policy. The sponsors of the bill even say it will 'downsize' Arizona."

(Confronted with these assertions, supporters of the law point to savings in government services they allege illegal aliens are draining, and many of Hamer's fellow Republicans in the Legislature are salivating at the prospect of cutting government programs as the state's budget woes increase.)

With such dire, Cassandra-like predictions, it's no surprise that an impressive coalition of business associations is challenging this two-strikes-and-you're-out hiring statute, set to go into effect January 1. These include, in addition to the state Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Contractors Association, the AZ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association. Currently, these groups are in federal district court, suing to stop the law before it's implemented.

Otherwise, HB2779, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, signed into law by Governor Janet Napolitano in July, will force them to utilize the federal government's E-verify system, to check the work authorization of new hires. If an employer is found to have knowingly or intentionally employed an illegal alien, the first "strike" earns the employer a 10-day suspension of his business license. The second violation during a three- to five-year probationary period garners a "business death penalty," as some have called it — permanent revocation of all licenses necessary to operate a business in Arizona legally.

The catch is the word "legally." Reza believes an underground, prohibition-like economy will flourish afterward, with more and more workers getting paid cash under the table, assuming they remain in Arizona.

"People like Russell Pearce [sponsor of the sanctions statute in the Legislature], they're taking work to the level of criminality, which is affecting both the employers and the consumers," he observes. "It's really sad. You criminalize a whole section of people that's making the economy move."

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10 comments
isaac jade
isaac jade

Hey Layne Lawless, let me tell you something. I am a "Native American" and when you say things like "squatting on our land" you just sound stupid. Unless you are "Native American" you can bet your relatives did the same thing at some point in time. How do you feel about their actions?

Isaac Jade
Isaac Jade

Sorry, but the biggest loosers are legal citizens who happen to be of Mexican desent. My brother who is of course a legal citizen was held up at gun point in Mesa 2 months ago and had his wallet stolen is now being threatend to having his checks with-held due to the fact he has no Social Security card. Most of us know how long it takes to get a new card and this is bullshit. This law hurts us all in different ways, but it does hurt.

Laine Lawless
Laine Lawless

There ya go agin, off the deep end: "how bad will the situation have to get before politicians stop listening to this small, vicious band of extremists driving the debate?" Are these the same extremists who go out and speak out for American sovereignty by demonstrating in front of Pruitts or at alternate locations and get 99% POSITIVE FEEDBACK from drivers, honking horns and giving us the thumbs up? Eighty percent of America is on our side! There are a few ppl who don't like us, it's true...but those are usually illegal alien-lovers. Give us a break, Steve...the sad story about the mom with 3 kids who came here illegally, SQUATTED, like the squatter she is, on our land, and then she's upset because her illegal kids can't get a drivers license! BOO-HOO-HOO! How about you and I go to Mexico together illegally, raise a passel o' kids, and see what kinda rights we get there? Mexico to its illegal aliens: You ain't got no stinking rights!

"Lemons is a Hack" is a Doofus
"Lemons is a Hack" is a Doofus

The retort of "Lemons is a Hack" is sad, typical and predictable. No meaningful, intelligent discussion of the legitimate counter-argument; just ridiculous, shameful hyperbole.

Tia Maria
Tia Maria

Give me a friggin' break. When there was talk about raising the minimum wage by a quarter or fifty cents, these same employers bitched about how much money it was going to cost them, and how a bunch of people were going to be laid off. NT couldn't ridicule them enough, and rightfully so. But now that they are whining and bitching about spending, what, an additional $50 to make sure someone is here legally, NT agrees with the bastards?

And as for that poor kid who can't drive, well....driving's a privilege, not a right. Besides, you want to get hit by that kid in an accident? I bet he wouldn't have any insurance. Try and collect for damages to your car, or worse yet, you or a family member when they end up in the hospital. Is he too precious to take the bus, or something?

The real problem for Mr Reza is simple. He might have to get a real job if/when all the illegals go home. He isn't gonna get his name in the paper either. It sure sucks when you can't exploit your own....

Chris Longski
Chris Longski

NT's pro-illegal stance is blind; there are many landscaping companies ableto fill the void when the illegals are gone and wages rise as a result.

The illegal problem is (open your ears and engage your brain), DUE TO CONDITIONSIN MEXICO, NOT BAD LAWS IN ARIZONA...

Why doesn't NT do an article on the corrupt government and businesses in Mexico ?

Be a patriot: Call ICE on an illegal today...

Whatever happened to the NT cause celebre Virginia Gutierrez ? Did she get freecollege in Mexico ? Did she go to work in a whorehouse ? What happened ?

The backlash on illegals is in full swing - choke on it, NT...

Chris Longski

Lemons is a Hack
Lemons is a Hack

Lemons'...er...Jet Blue's retort is sad, typical and predictable. No meaningful, intelligent discussion of the legitimate counter-argument; just ridiculous, shameful hyperbole.

Jet Blue
Jet Blue

Mr. Native Arizonan is right on the money. I would've liked to have seen more discussion of Nazi Germany deporting the Jews; the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia; Idi Amin kicking the South Asians out of Uganda; the white man's slaughter of the Native americans; etc. These similar, past efforts on par with the AZ employer sanctions law were all quite successful, and absolutely benefitted the local population. Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Native Arizonan since 1956
Native Arizonan since 1956

How about a little research into communities where such sanctions have already been enacted? Rather than speculating about possible outcomes, you could actually get real evidence of the results. Of course, that might take a little work AND it just may disprove your predetermined prognostications.How about it?

Todd Jones
Todd Jones

It will certainly be amusing to see the self destruction of Arizona with thislaw taking effect and everything else thats going on in Maricopa County.

With the likes of Candy Andy & Joe Arpaio running around with giant scissorsand razor blades, lashing out at anything and everything in their way, itsonly a matter of time before someone looses a limb or vital organ.

 

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