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Arizona business leaders blast proposed ‘anti-immigration’ laws

HCR2060 would create fines of up to $1,000 against businesses that employ undocumented immigrants.

By Joe Duhownik, Courthouse News Service

PHOENIX (CN) — Local business owners and activists gathered at the Arizona Capitol building Monday to denounce a proposed immigration-related ballot measure they compare to Arizona’s infamous Senate Bill 1070. 

House Concurrent Resolution 2060, which passed the House last week with only Republican support, would if passed by voters require business owners to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of all of their employees, and would fine them up to $1,000 for every employee who is in the United States illegally. It also requires government municipalities to confirm the citizenship of any person receiving welfare or financial aid. 

“This bill threatens not only to impose crippling fines on businesses, but also sends a chilling message to immigrant entrepreneurs like myself, and immigrant workers, that we’re not welcome,” Jose Rivera, owner of Tres Leches Cafe in Phoenix, said to nearly two dozen reporters behind Arizona’s Capitol building Monday afternoon. “We’re more than just a coffee shop. We’re a staple in the community.”

Aureliano Dominguez, owner of El Caprichoso Hot Dogs in the Phoenix Valley, said the legislators responsible for the resolution “don’t see or don’t care about our communities.”

“Small businesses are part of this country,” he said.

Dozens of Democrat lawmakers stood behind him and other activists as they took turns at the podium. 

Opponents of the resolution say it will hurt Arizona’s economy by making it harder for small businesses to find employees and by discouraging immigrants to come to the state. 

SB1070, sometimes known as the “show me your papers” law, enacted in 2010, required:

  • Police to investigate the legal status of those they suspect to be undocumented during legal stops

  • The arrest of people without warrants if officers suspect them of being undocumented

  • All immigrants to carry federal registration papers on them at all times

  • Criminal charges for immigrants who seek or accept work without authorization

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the last three provisions in 2012, upholding the first. Critics of that bill, which sparked international controversy and inspired boycotts and travel bans, said it encouraged racial profiling. Studies found that businesses across the state lost up to $141 million in revenue and nearly 3,000 jobs in the three years that the majority of the bill stayed on the books. But on a large scale, it seemed to have a minimal economic effect on the state. 

Joe Garcia, executive director of Chicanos Por La Causa, said those are only the effects that could be documented. 

“There’s no way to know how many other businesses and how many people decided not to come to Arizona,” he said. “We know the reputation of Arizona and SB1070. We don’t want to go back to yesteryear.”

Garcia called the resolution and other “anti-immigration” bills in the Legislature a war on Arizona businesses and its economy, and on “all improvement we’ve made since SB1070, simply because of some backward ideology.”

He acknowledged the border crisis and said work must be done to fix it. But he added: “You don’t punish people for broken policies. You don’t punish people for strengthening our economy.”

He suggested that Arizona’s voice on immigration policy should be at the federal level, asking why the U.S. Senate refused to hear a bipartisan solution that came out of the House this month. 

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, denounced HCR2060 and two other Republican-sponsored “anti-immigration” bills in a statement Monday morning. 

“Every Arizonan is frustrated by the federal government’s failure to secure our border,” she said in the statement. “But passing job-killing, anti-business bills that demonize our communities is not the solution. Instead of securing our border, these bills will simply raise costs, hurt our farmers, put Arizona entrepreneurs out of business, and destroy jobs for countless working class Arizonans.”

She called HCR2060 a “desperate, partisan attempt to circumvent the legislative process,” and called out state Senator Janae Shamp’s SB1231 and state Representative Steve Montenegro’s HB2821, both of which would make illegal border crossing a state crime. Republican state Representative Joseph Chaplik’s HB2748 would do the same thing.

Each law would make undocumented entry into the U.S. a level 1 misdemeanor with the potential to be upgraded to a felony based on prior offenses and other circumstances. Each has passed through its respective half of congress and is awaiting further committee assignment. 

None of the sponsors for the bills replied to requests for comment. 

Rivera suggests that local businesses won’t comply with the pending resolution. 

“Business owners have no business enforcing Republican anti-immigration laws,” he said. “We are meant to serve our communities. Not police them.”

Also picked up by The Tucson Sentinel

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