There’s no way the Socialist Republic of California would pass a law such as this, but I can dream, can’t I?
For months, immigrants have taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the state’s new employer-sanctions law, which takes effect January 1. The voter-approved legislation is an attempt to lessen the economic incentive for illegal immigrants in Arizona, the busiest crossing point along the U.S.-Mexico border.
And by all appearances, it’s starting to work.
“People are calling me telling me about their friend, their cousin, their neighbors — they’re moving back to Mexico,” said Magdalena Schwartz, an immigrant-rights activist and pastor at a Mesa church. “They don’t want to live in fear, in terror.”
Martin Herrera, a 40-year-old illegal immigrant and masonry worker who lives in Camp Verde, 70 miles north of Phoenix, said he is planning to return to Mexico as soon as he ties up loose ends after living here for four years.
“I don’t want to live here because of the new law and the oppressive environment,” he said. “I’ll be better in my country.”
He called the employer-sanctions law “absurd.”
“Everybody here, legally or illegally, we are part of a motor that makes this country run,” Herrera said. “Once we leave, the motor is going to start to slow down.”
There’s no way to know how many illegal immigrants are leaving Arizona, especially now with many returning home for normal holiday visits. But economists, immigration lawyers and people who work in the immigrant community agree it’s happening.
State Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, the author of the employer sanctions law, said his intent was to drive illegal immigrants out of Arizona.
“I’m hoping they will self-deport,” Pearce said. “They broke the law. They’re criminals.”
Under the employer sanctions law, businesses found to have knowingly hired illegal workers will be subject to sanctions from probation to a 10-day suspension of their business licenses. A second violation would bring permanent revocation of the license.