A new Arizona state law to require employers to verify the immigration status of employees is being blamed – and credited – for chasing illegal aliens out of the state.
It’s the second such development in just the last week: WND reported earlier how a new Oklahoma law requiring the deportation of arrested illegal aliens was prompting an exodus from that state.
The developments are the result of state actions already launched when a brokered plan in the U.S. Senate to create a path to legal residency for the millions of illegal aliens in the country collapsed.
The new report comes from the Arizona Republic, which said the state’s strong economy has been a magnet for illegal aliens for years, but the law is looming on Jan. 1.
“I would say we are losing at least 100 people a day,” Elias Bermudez, founder of Immigrants Without Borders and host of a daily talk-radio program aimed at undocumented immigrants, told the newspaper.
The report said it’s impossible to count exactly how many illegal aliens have fled because of the new law, but interviews with immigrant advocates, community workers and real-estate agents confirm the number is significant.
“Some are moving to other states, where they think they will have an easier time getting jobs,” the report said. “Others are returning to Mexico, selling their effects and putting their houses on the market.”
The report said the number is expected to mushroom as the deadline approaches.
“This is exactly what it is supposed to do. (Illegal aliens) have no business being here, none,” said state Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, an architect of the law to sanction employers. “Shut off the lights, and the crowd will go home. I hope they will all self-deport.”
Companies found in violation of the ban on knowingly hiring unauthorized workers face a 10-day business license suspension on the first offense. A second offense could mean they would be ordered to shut down permanently.
But others say the state’s economy will pay a price for the sanctions.
“If these workers leave, it’s going to hurt the economy and put the state at an economic disadvantage with other states,” Judith Gans, program manager for immigration policy at the University of Arizona, told the newspaper.
Said Ann Seiden, of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, “Nobody is going to be untouched by the ramifications of this law.” Her organization is among a group that has gone to court to try to block the law.
The newspaper said a study released in July forecast economic output would drop annually by at least $29 billion, or 8.2 percent, if all non-citizens, which include illegal aliens, were removed from Arizona’s workforce.
An estimated 14 percent of the 2.6 million workers in Arizona are foreign-born; about two-thirds of non-citizens are undocumented, officials said.
Officials say construction, manufacturing and agriculture in Arizona depend on immigrant labor, both legal and illegal, because the native-born population is aging and more highly educated.
Gans said frustration with illegal aliens “is understandable,” but the state could hurt itself with its actions.
But Pearce said, “Whatever adjustment takes place in the market, it will be worth it.”
State Sen. Robert Burns, R-Peoria, said the problem could be resolved with more ways for immigrants to enter the U.S. legally, but only the federal government can make those changes.
The state, he said, must act because people are “fed up with illegal immigration.”
“I wouldn’t wish hardship on anybody and I don’t want the economy to go south, but maybe we need a jolt to show people what’s going on,” Burns said.
The newspaper reported Abel Ledezma, a telephone technician from Mexico’s Chihuahua state, holds a work permit but his fianc?e is undocumented, so Ledezma is selling his house.
“I feel like the people’s attitudes towards not only immigrants but also Hispanics has become very rude,” he told the newspaper.
Another illegal alien, identified only as Adrian by the newspaper, said he’s undocumented and plans to return to Mexico as soon as he can sell a parcel of land he owns in Tonopah.
“Yes, we are desperate to leave the moment I sell my property,” Adrian told the newspaper. He’s a foreman for a building company. But he’s worried. “There is a lot of uncertainty. I supervise five workers, and the boss told us they are going to be checking the documents of each worker.”
Real estate listings surpassed 52,000, up 17 percent from a year ago, officials added.
In Oklahoma, a law that mandates deportation for illegal aliens who are arrested and limits benefits for others is being blamed – or credited – with the departure of thousands of Hispanics.
A report from KTUL television in Tulsa said authorities are making their preparations for a full enforcement of the law when it takes effect in November.
Deputies from the Tulsa County sheriff’s office are going through training to handle the apprehension and deportation procedures that are being set up. Their training will prepare them to handle the multiple duties of deputy sheriff as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
When they are finished they will be prepared to identify illegal aliens who commit crimes, and make sure they are deported.
On the television station’s forum page, a listener suggested: “We need to put up more signs that say: OKIES don’t hate illegal immigrants they just want them legal! Deport all illegal immigrants now.”
The Republican who wrote HB 1804, Randy Terrill of Moore, said the plan doesn’t discriminate, harass or single out anyone, unless they are breaking the law.
“This isn’t about whether you are for or against immigration, or for or against immigrants. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is or if you speak with an accent. What matters is if you are in the country legally or illegally. The only people threatened by House Bill 1804 are those who choose to break the law,” he said.