The Payson Town Council Thursday night approved a first reading of an ordinance that would crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
Without much discussion, the council unanimously approved the first reading.
The ordinance, in part, declares that business owners applying for a license must sign "an affidavit of the applicant stating under oath that the applicant has reviewed the employment records for the business and that all employees currently working in the business' Payson location are United States Citizens, permanent resident aliens or persons otherwise lawfully in the United States."
Tom Johns, branch manager for Mesa Insulation, wanted to know if his business license would be revoked if he hired an undocumented worker accidentally.
He said he follows the Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) policy, but added there could be one or two employees someday who might provide false information.
"If I accept false identification, could I still have my license revoked?" he asked.
Mayor Bob Edwards said employers would not have to worry as long as they have the identification of each employee on file.
Council member Tim Fruth asked Johns what he does when he files the paperwork and it gets kicked back to him, informing him the identification is false.
Johns said this has not happened to him.
Fruth said there have been instances where people who used false Social Security numbers have still received workers' compensation.
Fruth said employers who try to follow the law would not be penalized.
"I would hope we would honor good faith," he said. "If a business owner knows it is a false identification, that is a different story."
Edwards told Johns that the town is not requiring employers to become investigators upon hiring employees.
The penalty for violating any portion of the business-licensing ordinance would include the following sanctions.
- Any person, firm, company or corporation convicted of violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, subject to the revocation of the business license and a fine not to exceed $20,000 for businesses and $2,500 for individuals.
- Each separate day during which the violation continues shall be construed as a separate offense with the same penalties.
The council will have a second reading on the ordinance March 15.
If the second reading is successful, it would become law 30 days later.