The Associated Press
PHOENIX – Business criticism of the state’s new employer sanctions law against hiring of illegal immigrants is exaggerated, Gov. Janet Napolitano said Wednesday.
“We’re going to be implementing or monitoring the implementation of this very carefully,” Napolitano said. “There’s a lot of predictions of doom and gloom.”
Under the law, employers who intentionally hire illegal immigrants stand to lose their business licenses temporarily or permanently, depending on the circumstances.
The law’s supporters say the state needs to impose sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants to remove an economic attraction – jobs – for illegal immigrants flooding into the state, the nation’s busiest crossing point for illegal border crossings.
An estimated 1 in 10 workers in the Arizona economy is an illegal immigrant.
Some employers contend that the law will unfairly burden businesses and devastate the state’s economy, and two business groups last week filed a lawsuit challenging the law in federal court.
Napolitano said she’s heard from some employers who welcome the new law as a way to promote fair competition for law-abiding businesses.
“The business community has not spoken with one voice,” she said.
Napolitano also indicated she’s in no rush to call the Legislature into special session to make changes that she wants to deal with perceived problems with requirements that take effect Jan. 1.
Napolitano said she plans to meet in a month or so with legislative leaders to discuss a possible special session, an idea she broached when she signed the bill July 2.
“I want them to have some time and some space to hear from people who are concerned about the bill, who have questions about its implementation, so they themselves can begin independently thinking through this law and how it’s to be implemented,” she said.
“We’re in new territory here,” the governor added.
Napolitano said she hoped to reach a consensus with lawmakers before a special session is held, but she declined to say whether she’d summon lawmakers anyway if there is no agreement reached beforehand.
She said flaws included a lack of exceptions for critical industries and the omission of an anti-discrimination clause.