In today’s column, Miguel Perez criticizes the Supreme Court for blurring the lines between federal and local government with its recent ruling to uphold the Legal Arizona Workers Act. Perez says, “Mind you, this is not the most infamous Arizona law — the one that would institutionalize racial profiling against all immigrants by allowing police to question anyone’s immigration status. This one empowers local authorities to shut down any business that knowingly hires an undocumented immigrant.”
I don’t understand how businesses can be strong-armed into acting as immigration policy police and apparently, neither does dissenting Justice Stephen Breyer, who cautioned, “either directly or through the uncertainty that it creates, the Arizona statute will impose additional burdens upon lawful employers.” Small business owners are sure to find new compliance requirements onerous. It’s challenging enough to run a business in today’s difficult economic conditions without assuming the duties of a deputized immigration enforcement agent.
I’m also curious to see how Arizona is going to handle their own version of A Day Without A Mexican, a thought-stimulating movie in which, “One morning California wakes up to find that one third of its population has disappeared.” Will Arizona residents take over the hardest and least pleasant jobs which immigrants lowest on the employment ladder perform today: lawn and yard care, restaurant busing and dishwashing, choosing and preparing fruits and vegetables for sale, office and toilet cleaning, and sewing clothes in sweat shop conditions? There’s no reason these jobs can’t be done by legal Arizona workers, but consider for a moment that undocumented immigrants do these jobs for as little as a quarter of the minimum wage. If our economy is in bad shape now, imagine the shape it’s going to be in when the pay for the low-rung job functions doubles, triples or quadruples. And, instead of being handled by workers conditioned through a lifetime of difficult labor conditions to get the job done quickly, quietly and with no complaints, Arizona’s tough or ugly jobs get handed over to men and women whose work ethic includes exercising rights to have breaks at scheduled intervals, safe and comfortable working conditions, and overtime pay?