On January 1st, the toughest immigration law in the country goes in to force in Arizona. The law has two major components. First, employers found to have hired unauthorized workers can be penalized with the loss of their business licenses - essentially the death penalty for a company. Second, employers are required to begin using the E-Verify electronic employment verification system. I have prepared two question and answer documents to assist Arizona companies in understanding their new obligations. The first is an overview of the Arizona law. The second summarizes E-Verify.
There are a number of open questions the answers to which will determine the impact of the new laws. Will employers comply with the new laws or ignore them (including taking employees off the books all together)? Will Arizona rigorously enforce the new laws? Will the federal government be able to handle a massive increase in the number of E-Verify inquiries? With the recent Westat report showing that as many as 10% of foreign born US citizens being identified as illegally present in the US, will the federal government be able to handle a sudden surge in requests to correct problems (and will such incorrectly identified workers be compensated by the federal government since they will suddenly be unable to work ANYWHERE in Arizona and may be rendered unemployable for a potentially lengthy period?). Will there be a mass exodus of unauthorized workers from the state and what will the impact be on an economy with only 3% unemployment? The Washington Post comments on these questions (and the editors of that paper are not very optimistic in their answers.