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Fri, Feb. 21

Editorial: Businesses play a big part in SB 1070 issue

How do businesses figure in the furor that has put Arizona in the spotlight since Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 in April and U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Bolton put its most controversial portions on hold?

Mention of businesses and how they comply with federal law that prohibits knowingly hiring illegal workers seems to be sorely missing in discussions about Arizona's immigration law.

The debate over the constitutionality of such laws will undoubtedly go on for months and maybe years, but one question that keeps surfacing, albeit not often in public, is whether businesses that hire illegal immigrants are a roadblock to easing what has turned into a crisis here at home, smearing egg all over Arizona's face.

The E-Verify program, administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, allows employers to access a Social Security Administration database where they can match information an employee gives them with immigration records. If the employee's information matches the information in the database, the employee is eligible to work. If the information doesn't match, the employer gets notification of that from E-Verify, and the employee in question may continue working while he or she resolves the problem.

Arizona followed suit by enacting a law, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which requires employers to participate in E-Verify. To be sure, Arizona's law has faced challenges in courts, but so far has survived. Businesses that get caught hiring illegals can face consequences.

According to USCIS, E-Verify is "fast, free and easy to use."

If the program is all that the federal agency says that it is, as it encourages employers to maintain a legal workforce, then the question is why, out of 100,000 to 110,000 employers in Arizona, as of July 2010, only 34,327 were signed up on the E-Verify list?

Considering the whiplash that Arizona is reeling from in the face of all the ranting that we are a racist state, is it unfair to ask businesses to do their part by making sure they are hiring people who are in this country legally?

Hardly.

If people are in this country legally, they deserve the right to work. If they are not here legally, employers should turn them away.

Footnote: The judge might have truncated SB 1070, but she let one aspect stand. While illegals may still congregate on street corners hoping for someone to hire them, best not pick them up and drive them to the jobs.

That's against the law, too.

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