Employer Sanctions Bad Business

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The employer sanctions law -- scheduled to begin today, Jan 1, 2008 -- is bad business.

Employers must now certify a worker's legal status or face the revocation of the license to operate their business.

In order to complete the verification process, employers must take training in the "E-Verify" system. That training is time away from their business. With most businesses in the Rim Country considered "small," lost time means lost revenue.

"There aren't going to be any winners -- we have to do things the feds should be doing," said John Stanton, manager of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Representatives for the hospitality industry have estimated small restaurants could spend up to $100,000 to comply and larger establishments could be out as much as $1 million. Losing trained personnel due to their legal status will also hurt many businesses, which will have to spend more time and money training replacements -- if they can find them at all.

Growers, builders, landscape contractors, hotels and other businesses may have trouble finding workers.

Moreover, the overburdened local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies will have to stretch themselves even further to enforce the law.

Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores has announced her office will offer the complaint forms at her offices and online. When a complaint is filed, her staff will have to determine its validity. A complaint made based on race, national origin or language is still illegal.

In the end, the businesses and government agencies will have to raise money to pay for the additional costs. We all know who will be picking up the tab -- consumers making use of those businesses and taxpayers.

Now, we could justify even all the time and money and trouble if it would actually solve the problem. The nation does need to regain control of its borders. We face serious problems when the federal failure to secure that border and provide a reasonable way to supply the nation's labor needs results in millions of illegal border crossers and an estimated 11 to 14 million undocumented workers living in the legal shadows in every community. Enforcing labor laws and requiring workers to have proper papers is certainly a vital piece of that puzzle. But local businesses should not be burdened with paperwork and threatened with the business death sentence of a license revocation without a comprehensive, national solution -- plus a reliable, efficient, fair federal data base.

Instead, business people have been saddled with this confusing, expensive, potentially unfair responsibility for a problem they did not create and cannot solve.

So when the sanctions law comes down to the bottom line, it will prove bad business for everyone.

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