Arizona immigration employment proposal garners support, criticism

A new immigration proposal was debated on at the Arizona State Capitol on Feb. 19.

Currently, Arizona employers must use E-Verify, a background system to ensure would-be employees are legally present and eligible to work. If passed, the proposal would extend these requirements to some independent contractors.

Penalties for those who refuse to do so would include fines or a Class 6 felony.

House Speaker Ben Toma (R-District 27) sponsored the proposal, also known as HCR2060, and called it one of the toughest laws on illegal immigration ever written. He argued the proposal merely strengthens current law, and closes loopholes.

"Instead of a slap on the wrist, violations of the law will have real consequences, and fines can be used to reimburse enforcement," said State Rep. Toma.

Opponents, however, feel that this will hurt the economy, specifically hitting industries like restaurants, retail, and construction, which are already struggling to find workers. They also fear families will be hurt.

"Anti-immigrant laws like [SB1070] and HCR2060 do nothing but negatively effect our labor market, lead to national disgrace, and lead to heightened discrimination of people of color," said one opponent.

The proposal passed a committee on Feb. 19 by way of a 10-7 vote. If approved by the State Legislature, HCR2060 would be submitted to voters.