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Arizona governor signs tough sanctions for employers hiring illegal workers

[JURIST] Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano signed [press release, PDF] the Legal Arizona Workers Act [AZ HB 2779 materials] Monday, legislation that requires employers to verify that employees are in the United States legally. In what Napolitano called "the most aggressive action in the country against employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented workers," employers who violate the law could have their business licence suspended or, after a second offense, permanently revoked. In her signing statement [PDF text], Napolitano, however, noted several problems with the new Arizona law, including the omission of an anti-discrimination clause and the lack of a "license revocation exception for businesses servicing critical infrastructure," among others.

The governor also condemned the federal government for failing to pass immigration reform legislation [JURIST news archive], saying:

Immigration is a federal responsibility, but I signed House Bill 2779 because it is now abundantly clear that Congress finds itself incapable of coping with the comprehensive immigration reforms our country needs. I signed it, too, out of the realization that the flow of illegal immigration into our state is due to the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor....

Because of Congress' failure to act, states like Arizona have no choice but to take strong action to discourage the further flow of illegal immigration through our borders. I renew my call to Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Now that Arizona has acted, other states are likely to follow. For our country to have a uniform and uniformly enforced immigration law, the United States Congress must act swiftly and definitively to solve this problem at the national level.
Napolitano also called for national legislation in a letter [PDF text] to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in which she also urged Congress to review the Basic Pilot Program [USCIS materials], the federal database used to verify the status of new employees. The New York Times has more.

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