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

Reza overheard the conversation and related a similar case of Caucasian self-contradiction that occurred when he was testifying before the Legislature in 2005. He was arguing against a statewide prohibition on any funding of day-laborer sites by municipalities. Reza told me how a neighborhood activist nearly assaulted him when he informed legislators that he had once helped procure day laborers for the man.

"I told [the legislators] there are a lot of hypocrites in here," he recalls, referring to those testifying for the prohibition. "This guy [who got ticked off] had asked me to find workers for him to pick up oranges in the Arcadia area, because the rats were eating the oranges. The people in the community were too old to pick up the fruit. He said he never did that, but I had brought him two or three workers myself."

The anecdote points out one of the ironies of the immigration debate. Often those who seem most opposed to the influx of illegal aliens are those most in need of their labor — the elderly. The ranks of the counterprotesters at the Pruitt's donnybrook are beefed up with older people who long for the '50s. A time and place when all you saw were white people, or so it seems to them, because the society was then so highly segregated.

Irony aside, it's unlikely local alter kockers will be straining their backs to pick their own fruit. As Reza points out, the law will not apply to people picking up jornaleros for a little part-time landscaping. It will be larger employers who want to follow the law who feel the squeeze, as will we all.

Though Arizona is home to an estimated 500,000 illegals, and while the workers from this pool make up anywhere from 9 to 12 percent of the state's work force, Arizona has an incredibly tight labor market, with an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent. (Five percent is generally deemed to be "full employment" by economists.) Such a labor shortage, further exacerbated by the new employer-sanctions law, will be felt in higher prices for essential goods and services, as above-board employers pass on increased labor costs to consumers.

More alarming, however, than paying more for your hamburger is the prospect that the new law will be enforced here by County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Arpaio.

From what we've seen in the past, expect INS-style raids staged for TV cameras, with Joe wagging his finger at supposed lawbreakers. Thomas has recently stated that he believes the law can be enforced retroactively, which should be cold comfort to employers racing to comply with it by January 1. Even if you do everything by the book in 2008, Thomas and Arpaio could still come get you, perhaps based on an anonymous tip from one of your competitors.

"To begin with, they don't have the personnel to enforce this law," alleges Reza. "So what that tells me is Arpaio's going to go after certain businesses to make a political statement. The Sheriff's Office is going to be very selective. Like it is with newspapers."

Selective. You know, as in Arpaio's Selective Enforcement Unit, whose officers arrested New Times co-founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. Indeed, Arpaio's passion for retaliation was most recently documented by my colleague Sarah Fenske in the first installment of the "Target Practice" series ("Enemies List," November 29).

The new law will give Arpaio another way to coerce and control the county's rich and powerful, who might own some of the enterprises he and Thomas go gunning for. Like, say, Carl's Jr. franchise king Jason LeVecke, who's been outspoken in opposing the law. A slip-up in hiring at any one of his 57 locations could put him out of business.

"It's not just about whether someone's legal or not," LeVecke tells me. "It's about whether my whole business goes under and 1,200 people lose their jobs."

Incredibly, nativists are willing to shrink the economy, force illegals to "self-deport," and make businesses kowtow to reactionary demands, perhaps even kiss Arpaio's ring for good measure. The question is, how bad will the situation have to get before politicians stop listening to this small, vicious band of extremists driving the debate?

"I'm not sure how much pain it will take before the law is changed," shrugs the Arizona Chamber of Commerce's Hamer.

In Reza's view, the law's failure is inevitable, and not just because some judge may put the brakes on it through a temporary restraining order.

"You're messing with the natural flow of commerce," he observes. "And you're creating artificial barriers. Commerce and the market are like a human energy. You can't stop it. A lot of companies will refuse to comply with this law. [Of the companies that don't comply] those that survive will survive underground."

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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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