Currently, Arizona’s law is being reviewed from the United States District Court, and this could potentially delay the law’s scheduled January 1st implementation date.
And well-intended as the Arizona legislature may have been, there is plenty of reason to believe that the court may very well strike-down the state’s new law. And if this happens, it will be for good reason.
The problem with Arizona’s law is that it too closely resembles a city ordinance passed in Hazelton, Pennsylvania back in 2006. The Hazelton law, which sought to punish employers of illegal immigrants just as Arizona’s law does, was struck down by the U.S. District Court in that state on July 26th - - just 24 days after Governor Janet Napolitano signed her state’s bill into law.
The biggest problem with the Hazelton law is that it mandates employers to do things that are in direct conflict with federal law. With respect to the demand that a Hazelton business owner terminate an employee who might be found to be “illegal,” the judges write:
“Thus, in direct conflict with (federal law), Hazelton seeks to force an employer to terminate an employee, where under federal law the employer is prohibited from terminating that employee. Additionally, under the Hazelton Ordinance, the only appeal right appears to be held by the employer….Without providing any appeal rights to the employee, I.I.R.A. (the Hazelton ordinance) is in conflict with the federal law.”
In short, if a business owner in Hazelton were to attempt to follow the law that the city council passed, he could be found to be in violation of the laws of the country, and thus be subject to law suits and prosecution.
Earlier this year when I raised concerns over these kinds of discrimination claims being falsely made against business owners, I was flooded with nasty email from any readers telling me that such claims would be un-founded, and would never hold up in court.
These responses miss the point. The point is that an individual or family who owns a small business (a business so small that it doesn’t afford a “legal department” or staff attorney) could quite literally be bankrupted while merely trying to defend against such a claim, whether or not the claim is legitimate. And local law that conflicts with federal law can bring about increased discrimination claims.
There is much more to be said on this all important issue of curtailing illegal immigration. But local laws must not be crafted so as to require business owners to contradict federal immigration and employment law. This puts business owners in a no-win, “catch 22” position, and makes business owners pay the price for the federal government’s failures.
And ultimately, the greatest obstacle to meaningful immigration reform is flawed federal law itself.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.