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Employer sanctions signed into law

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Following her comments last month that states would forge their own immigration laws in the wake of Congress's inability to pass immigration reform, Gov. Janet Napolitano has approved a law that will give Arizona the toughest employer sanctions law in the country.

In a written statement accompanying H2779, Napolitano said she took the tandem action because Congress has failed miserably.

"Immigration is a federal responsibility, but I signed HB 2779 because it is now abundantly clear that Congress finds itself incapable of coping with the comprehensive immigration reforms our country needs," she wrote. "I signed it, too, out of the realization that the flow of illegal immigration into our state is due to the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor."

Napolitano also said she is willing to call a special session later this year to address some of her concerns with the legislation, but will not set a specific date until she has had the opportunity to consult with legislative leaders. The purpose of the special session, she said, will be to correct and clarify the law, not undercut it.

The new law will punish employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. First-time offenders could face a 10-day suspension of their business licenses and will be required to report hirings to the county attorney for three years. A second offense means the business will have its license revoked.

House Speaker Pro Tem Bob Robson, R-20, said the law is "reasonable" in its punishments and will not be a problem for the vast majority of businesses.

"I don't think it's going to be a burden for many employers," he said.

The importance of the Arizona law, Robson said, is underscored by the failed revival last week of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate.

"This week told us that the states, in many cases, have to go ahead and do it on their own," he said. "Maybe we were ahead of our time."

Reaction from the business community came quickly.

"The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is extremely disappointed in the outcome of HB 2779. The passage of a state level employer sanctions bill is not only a blow to Arizona businesses, but a devastating setback to the state's economy. Arizona's elected officials have caved to the political pressure of this emotional issue and deflected the burden for a national immigration problem onto the backs of businesses in Arizona," President & CEO Glenn Hamer said in a statement.

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Will they actually enforce it or will it be like the language law in Cali? What about existing employees - does it address the business that already have illegals working for them? I'm curious as to how it's going to pan out. We don't have nearly the same issue as you guys - we're too far away and too damn cold for most of them. On the other hand we do get shiploads of Chinese "refugees" from time to time trying to land on the wet coast...

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