Tag Archives: immigration

Hamer - June 2011-fornewsletter

Gap is Narrowing on Immigration Reform

Various Arizona Chamber and business leaders have made numerous visits to Washington, D.C. over the years to push for reform of our nation’s badly broken immigration system. As a border state, we understand this issue well. For years, the business community in Arizona has been pressing Congress and the Administration for a secure border, workable visa and guest worker programs, nationwide employee verification programs such as E-Verify, and a way for those who did not enter the country legally but are now contributing to our state to get right with the law, especially those brought to this country as children. The failure of the federal government to act resulted in Arizona and many other states trying to do immigration reform on their own, resulting in a patchwork of policies nationwide.

But it is obvious today that all roads to reform lead through Washington, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arizona v. U.S., which held that state attempts to regulate immigration were preempted by federal immigration law.

This past Tuesday, when a group of about 20 Arizona business, faith and law enforcement leaders visited with all nine of our U.S. House members, we were not alone. Over 600 leaders from over 40 states took to Capitol Hill to urge House Members, with a focus on the Republican majority, to support bringing legislation to the floor this year.

I had the privilege to address the gathering on Monday night at the opening reception to discuss why reform is so important and beneficial to our economy and security. Our country’s greatest comparative advantage is that the best, brightest and hardest workers from across the globe desire to work in our country.

Before we hit the Hill on Tuesday, we gathered at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to prepare. The U.S. Chamber and their Senior Vice President Randel Johnson have been the lead business organization on this entire reform effort. At the kickoff meeting we heard from conservative icon Grover Norquist, who made the free-market case for reform.  Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Rebecca Tallent of the Bipartisan Policy Center remarked that all credible studies of reform point to significant economic and budgetary benefits. Fresno County (Calif.) Sheriff Margaret Mims made a compelling case for the increased security reform could bring. Faith leaders offered a humanitarian case for reform, and our delegation was joined by a number of pastors working in coordination with a coalition called Bibles, Badges and Business.

While in Washington, we had the good fortune to run into ASU President Michael Crow, who is a strong supporter of reform. Our universities would benefit enormously from federal action. As Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein says, “Our ability to produce a highly-skilled workforce and thriving research enterprise that stimulate a growing, vibrant economy for Arizona will be strengthened by balanced immigration laws that promote access to education and economic opportunities.”

Our conversations with our House delegation were positive. While it is fair to say that there were differences in approach, all of our representatives agree that our nation’s immigration system is badly broken, and I believe that they all want to have a hand in getting it fixed.

While we are very proud and thankful for the hard and good work of our two U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, in crafting the Senate immigration proposal, it is clear that the House, as is its right, will draft its own plan and proceed with a series of bills as opposed to an omnibus. In fact, five different bills ranging from border security measures to efforts to fix some of our visa problems in the high-tech and agricultural sectors have passed two different House committees.

All agreed that we need to enhance our border security. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery offered some suggestions on changes that would allow for him to be more effective in assisting in border security. Nationwide use of E-Verify, a system already in wide use in Arizona due to the requirements of the Legal Arizona Workers Act, is another common area of support. And all agree on the need for visa reform, although there are some differences in scope. There may be an effort in the House to expand on the number of lower-skilled visas available as compared to the Senate bill.

The most difficult issue is how to deal with the 11 million who did not enter this country legally. There is growing support for some type of legalization, and even citizenship for the Dreamers, those individuals brought to the U.S. as children. But it is hard to imagine the citizenship language in the Senate bill passing in the House.

Although there are differences between the Senate and House, those differences are narrowing. But as one of our congressmen told our group, if the House is faced with making an all or nothing choice when considering the Senate legislation, the House will go with nothing.

Hard work will be required to get a package passed. This is not naming a post office. This could be the first significant immigration legislation to pass since 1986. This will take real leadership from Congress and the White House, where our president needs to channel his inner Bill Clinton and put on the charm on Capitol Hill.

Leadership from the business community will be required, too. If the House considers reform this year, job creators from across the country should welcome the opportunity to help broker a deal between the House, Senate and President Obama. We’re doing our part in Arizona, and we’ll keep at it until a deal gets done.

Postscript: I want to thank everyone who joined our team to urge Congress to pass an immigration reform package.

Barry Broome, President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Lea Marquez Peterson, President and CEO, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney
Jack Harris, former police chief, City of Phoenix
Mary Ann Miller, President and CEO, Tempe Chamber of Commerce
Chad Heinrich, Vice President of Public Policy and Economic Development, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Vice Mayor Tony Rivero, City of Peoria
Steve Moore, President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau
Pastor Gary Kinnaman
Pastor Bob Hake, Orangewood Church, Phoenix
Pastor Dan Steffen, Pure Heart Christian Fellowship, Glendale
Nan and Dick Walden, Farmers Investment Co., Sahuarita, Ariz.
Russell Johnson, President and CEO, Merchants Information Solutions, Inc.
Adam Estle, Bibles, Badges and Business
Brett Hunt, Bibles, Badges and Business

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. 

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. 

legal

Greenberg Traurig Expands Phoenix Labor Practice

The Phoenix office of the international law firm, Greenberg Traurig, has expanded its Labor and Employment Practice, adding two seasoned shareholders to serve client demand. Three accomplished employment attorneys, all listed in the 2014 edition of Best Lawyers in America, and two experienced associates, now comprise the firm’s growing Phoenix practice group.

The group will host its 13th Annual Labor and Employment Seminar on Wednesday, October 2nd at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Presentations will focus on emerging trends in labor and employment law and suggestions and strategies for enhanced compliance with applicable laws, in areas such as social media, the Affordable Care Act, immigration, wage and hour and workplace investigations.

Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix Labor and Employment Practice includes shareholders Laurent Badoux and James Nelson, counsel Mona Stone, and associates Dana Hooper and Lindsay Schafer. The group has a wide mix of experience in labor and employment litigation and advice. Specifically:

* Laurent Badoux focuses his practice exclusively on labor and employment law, with an emphasis on compensation, employee relations and transnational employment issues. His broad range of experience includes collective and class actions litigation, collective bargaining agreement negotiations and arbitration, restrictive covenants and the defense of administrative charges involving various state and federal agencies across the U.S. Badoux is a frequent lecturer, both nationally and internationally, a former UNLV adjunct faculty member and has extensive experience in employee training.

* James Nelson represents employers and plan fiduciaries in matters concerning ERISA compliance, fiduciary responsibility, collective bargaining, wage and hour, employee benefits, safety, discrimination, wrongful termination among others. Nelson’s litigation experience includes complex litigation, class action defense, administrative proceedings and appeals.

* Mona Stone advises both entrepreneurs and Fortune 50 companies on employment policies and agreements, compliance with local, state and federal laws including the FCPA and employee issues. She is a published author on employment law including employer guides on EEOC investigations, employment handbooks and policies and non-compete agreements. Having successfully defended numerous employee complaints at administrative hearings, arbitrations, mediations and trials throughout the U.S., Stone is called upon to be a frequent speaker at seminars and client training sessions.

* Dana Hooper focuses her practice in the areas of commercial litigation, employment law and sports law. Her litigation experience includes alternative dispute resolution and collective and class action defense. Hooper is certified as an athlete’s agent and provides legal representation to sports-oriented individuals and businesses.

* Lindsay Schafer works with clients on business litigation and complex commercial disputes. She maintains a particular practice emphasis on employment litigation. Schafer is experienced defending administrative complaints and lawsuits involving claims of employment discrimination, breach of employment contract and wrongful discharge in federal and state court.

Cost to attend the Labor and Employment Seminar is $75 per person or $50 each for groups of three or more. Admission includes lunch and refreshment. For more information and to register, please visit: http://www4.gtlaw.com/marketing/LE/21955/index.html. Registration deadline is Sept. 25.

immigration

I love it when a plan comes together

This is a heady time for supporters of real immigration reform. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including our own John McCain and Jeff Flake, have announced their support for a framework of sweeping changes that have long been supported by Arizona’s – and the nation’s – business community.

It is natural that Senators McCain and Flake are at the forefront of this effort. They have been consistent voices for reasonable changes to our immigration system that will secure our borders and grow our economy.

We are seeing real leadership on display. To have a New York Democrat like Chuck Schumer standing next to Florida Republican Marco Rubio, someone who could easily sit this one out in order to protect his status as the latest potential GOP presidential nominee du jour, is an example of putting policy over politics that we could use more of.

That’s not to say that there aren’t politics at play here. Just look at the walloping the Republicans took from Hispanic and Asian voters last November to get a sense of why that party would be wise to alter its posture towards this fast-growing demographic. But as someone who has done his time in the trenches of partisan politics, a bold move like this one won’t necessarily earn valentines from grassroots activists.

Here’s the framework for legislative action on immigration reform that the senators laid out:

1.  Creating a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already here that is contingent upon securing the border and combating visa overstays;

2.   Improving our legal immigration system and attracting the world’s best and brightest;

3.  Strong employment verification; and

4.  Admitting new workers and protecting workers’ rights.

This emerging framework and the cast of characters involved make me truly optimistic that there is a very real opportunity to advance immigration reform in 2013.

The desire to find a way to keep and attract high tech workers is especially encouraging. Even when unemployment was coming dangerously close to double digits, time and again I heard from employers who were having trouble finding qualified workers. Yet we have a visa system that will train up potential workers in sought after fields through our universities, and then wish them well as they head back to their home countries, and it’s almost a consensus item that we have to fix our broken agriculture worker visa system.

As the president said in his speech Monday in Las Vegas, “… the time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform. […] I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity.”

The fact that the world’s most talented and hardest working want to come to the United States is an asset that no other country can claim. It speaks to the dynamism of our people, culture and economy. I can personally attest that it was a net win when my wife, Tali, and her family immigrated to the U.S. from Israel. Ask North Korea about how well they’re doing attracting new immigrants and you‘ll get a sense of how beneficial immigration can be to a country’s health.

We can secure our borders and secure our economy. Let’s get this done this year.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/

immigration

Tackle Popular Immigration Reforms Now

Following the results of the election, there appears to be a real window in Washington, D.C. to do something meaningful on immigration.

The just reelected president has made immigration reform a first tier priority.  And many Republicans believe that dealing with this issue is essential to restoring to their party some attractiveness with the two fastest growing groups of immigrants: Asians and Hispanics.  Both groups clobbered the GOP in the election, with approximately 66 percent of Hispanics breaking for the president and Asians going into the president’s column at a whopping 73 percent.

The inability of Republican candidates to capture votes from these important demographic blocs is jarring. In 1996, the GOP Dole-Kemp ticket won 48 percent of the Asian vote. In his successful 2004 reelection campaign, President Bush won over 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Much has changed.

But more important than any political gains to be had are the economic benefits. As American Enterprise Institute fellow Ben Wattenberg wrote a few months ago, immigration is a comparative advantage for the United States. We need to take full advantage of the fact that the best and the brightest, the hardest working people from around the world desire to work and live in the United States.  This isn’t a situation that we should run from. This is something we should fully embrace.

While there may be the urge to try to fix the entire immigration system in one fell swoop, an all-at-once approach imploded a few years ago.  A step-by-step approach focused on making incremental gains may make more sense.

Yes, we need to bolster security and continue to work towards operational control of the border, but we also need to work on other areas ripe for reform now.

The three areas that should be addressed first:  1) some sort of codification of the president’s mini-Dream Act; 2) a path to increasing the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and higher-skill visas; and 3) improvements to our existing temporary worker programs.

Already the president has gone forward via executive order with a Dream Act-type plan that provides a renewable work permit for those who entered the country illegally at a young age and who meet certain conditions, such as military service or enrollment in college.

Shoring this up via legislation is not necessarily dead on arrival in Congress. You will recall that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized the president’s process behind this new program, but he did not attack the substance.  And Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida had been working on a similar proposal to the president’s actions before the executive order.

On visa reform, the U.S. House as early as this week is poised to act on legislation that would increase the number of STEM visas and make it easier for those with green cards to bring over family members.  The trade-off would be an elimination of the diversity visa program.

The public support for reform is there. A poll conducted for the Arizona Business Coalition over the summer found support for the president’s action on undocumented immigrants brought here as children, with 56 percent of respondents favoring the president’s policy while 41 percent were opposed.  This proposal was supported by 76 percent of Hispanics with only 21 percent in opposition.

Regarding Arizonans’ support for a proposal similar to the STEM legislation to be considered by the House later this week, the results are clear. The same poll asked the following question:

“The proposal would create a new category of green cards for highly-skilled foreign students who have earned a masters or doctorate degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics from an American university and have received a job offer to work in the U.S. This would allow these foreign-born students to stay, work, and pay taxes here in the United States. ”

The results?  Eighty percent support and only 19 percent in opposition.

In addition to this STEM proposal we should pass something along the lines of what Sen.-elect Jeff Flake has proposed with his STAPLE Act, which would exempt international STEM graduates educated in the U.S. from visa quotas.

There is also support for addressing obvious U.S. temporary worker needs. Arizona voters were asked:

“In general, would you support or oppose a guest worker program that allows workers from Mexico to cross the border legally and register with American authorities to perform seasonal work on a temporary basis in Arizona?”

The results were 83 percent of respondents in support and only 16 percent registering in opposition.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is prepared to help advise policymakers on these items, and we’ve established new policy committees – Federal Affairs and Hispanic Business and Emerging Markets – to help provide the analysis they require.

Forgive the sports analogy, but if immigration were a baseball game, we’re down by four runs. It would be nice to hit a grand slam and solve all of our immigration challenges, but we can get the same results by stringing together singles and doubles.

There’s a real opportunity to make substantive reforms to our country’s immigration system. Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/

LAWLOGIX GROUP LLC

Spirit of Enterprise winner: LawLogix Group

LawLogix Group earned the Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona this year at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Awards.

In 2000, LawLogix co-founder Brian Taylor was sitting at a Burger King near the consulate in Nogales, Mexico, waiting for a new U.S. visa to be approved. His own immigration experience was time consuming and frustrating, and he knew there had to be a better way for immigrants to share their case information with attorneys.

So LawLogix – a software company focused on creating the easiest-to-use and most secure immigration case management and I-9 compliance software available – was born. Brian and his co-founder Dan Siciliano, a law professor at Stanford, set out to develop a service that would automate what is otherwise a time-, labor-, and paper-intensive hiring and visa application process.

Today, LawLogix software and services are used by more than 155,000 organizations and 4.2 million foreign nationals worldwide. The company’s success  is based on five core principles:

  1. Empower the client. When developing their first product, LawLogix bucked the trend of client-hosted software, giving clients more freedom with a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model.
  2. Innovate by listening. LawLogix listens to customers to better understand their needs, and then develops software to solve their pain points.
  3. Listen to the marketplace. When the new I-9 and E-Verify laws were introduced, LawLogix developed an entirely new SaaS product to make I-9 compliance easy for companies.
  4. Invest in employees’ career growth. LawLogix provides specialized ongoing education and training for its employees and promotes from within.
  5. Lead the way. Through webinars and speaking engagements, LawLogix offers its lessons learned and expertise to the immigration services community.

Name of business: LawLogix Group, LLC

Nature of business: I-9, E-Verify, and immigration case management software

Address: 3111 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, Arizona 85012

Web: LawLogix.com

Founded: 2000

Number of employees: 52

steptoe associate

Steptoe Associate Honored For Pro Bono Work

Steptoe associate Kevin Fincel has been named a recipient of the Children’s Law Center Clinic Attorney of the Year Award by the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP). The award honors Fincel’s exceptional pro bono service to teens and young adults with limited access to legal services. Justice W. Scott Bales of the Arizona Supreme Court and former Chief Justice Frank X. Gordon, Jr. presented the award to Fincel at the VLP’s For Love of Justice reception on June 13 at the Phoenix School of Law in Arizona.

The VLP, co-sponsored by Community Legal Services (CLS) and the Maricopa County Bar Association, established the Children’s Law Center (CLC) in 1998 to address the unmet legal needs of children. The VLP increases access to the civil justice system for low-income persons by recruiting, training, and mentoring lawyers who extend services to those who cannot be served by CLS due to limited resources. The CLC collaborates with several service organizations for children to increase legal services to at-risk children.

Fincel, a litigator based in Steptoe’s Phoenix office, was recognized for his work with the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, a private nonprofit agency founded in 1972 to provide emergency shelter and services for runaway and homeless youth. The mission of the center is to provide a safe space for collaboration with adolescents and young adults in the community who are vulnerable or experiencing homelessness.

Since 2010, Fincel has provided services to teens and young adults who are homeless or have been declared dependent by the courts in a wide variety of matters including emancipation of minors, custody, immigration, employment, and child support. He provides young people with advice and resources that offer opportunities for them to develop their full potential.

For more information on Steptoe associate Kevin Fincel, visit Steptoe & Johnson’s website at steptoe.com.

Meeting Planners Are Learning To Be Advocates - AZ Business Magazine Sep/Oct 2010

In Troubled Times, Meeting Planners Are Learning To Be Advocates For Their Industry

Politics, economic setbacks and disasters of all kinds pose constant threats to the meetings industry. But increasingly, MPI, its members and others associated with meeting planning, are taking steps to be advocates for their industry before problems arise. Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Maritz Travel Company in St. Louis, wants her peers to “pay attention to what’s happening politically in Washington, as well as the effects of current events.”

Disasters such as an erupting volcano in Iceland or the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affect travel and have a trickle-down effect on every area of the industry.

“Now more than ever, there is a heightened sense of awareness of how connected we are in the world,” Duffy says.

An example of that are the boycotts against Arizona resulting from the state’s tough new immigration law, SB 1070.

Roger Rickard has been an MPI member for almost 20 years and is a partner in the California-based consulting firm REvent. He has dedicated his career to advocacy since Arizona’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday controversy in the early 1990s led to boycotts similar to today’s SB 1070 backlash.

While Rickard is clear that he does not represent MPI, he does believe that “we need to do more as an industry … if we don’t, we’ll become extinct.”

To that end, he has created Voices in Advocacy, which defines a strategy of how meeting and travel planners can advocate for themselves, including promoting and raising awareness for the industry using various tactics. In particular, the strategy details the significance of educating elected officials on the importance of the tourism industry, as well as the value of meetings.

“I aim to bring together members of all segments of this industry and help them set up meetings with officials to educate them,” Rickard says. “We want them to understand who we are and our value, and answer any questions they may have about what we do.”

Duffy adds that after 2008’s corporate meetings backlash, the US Travel Association became instrumental in advocating for the industry. The group released an ad pointing out the number of jobs lost in the industry (an estimated 1 million) due to the backlash. The association now serves as a powerful lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

Rickard notes that it’s important to get out the hard facts about the positive benefits of the meetings industry. He points to an Oxford Economics study that found that for every dollar spent on business travel, the return to a company’s bottom line is $12.50.

Theresa Davis, director of strategic communications with MPI national, adds that the organization’s research-based initiative, Meetings Deliver, “provides a comprehensive analysis of independent research conducted during the past two years on the value of meetings.”

She says it is critical for MPI members to “commit to speaking the ‘language of business’ by providing solid business arguments that speak to strategic meetings management from procurement and programming to measuring ROI, and being compliant with corporate CSR policies.”

Debbie Johnson, CEO of the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association, says many controversies surrounding the meetings industry have been blown out of proportion. It’s her challenge, she says, to “change people’s minds by providing facts and getting correct information out there.”

Johnson notes that additional marketing, public relations and direct communication efforts can provide event and meeting planners with talking points they can use to inform their clients about everything Arizona has to offer.

“We need to remind people about the benefits of the state and the reasons to visit,” she adds.

Thanks to MPI, Arizona’s meeting planners don’t have to fight this fight alone.

“When you bring the collective know-how and buying power of 23,000 members from more than 80 countries around the world, affiliation with a leading organization of MPI’s breadth and depth often helps drive our collective point home,” Davis says.

Arizona Business Magazine Sep/Oct 2010

Immigration

We Need Immigration Reform, Not Immigration Hype

SB 1070. It has been a few months since it passed, making Arizona the focus of so much national attention. As I have listened to Arizona, the entire country, and even some international Latina singers debate the issue, I have found ironies on both sides.

First, on the pro-SB 1070 side: Republicans (especially Arizona Republicans in state government) hate federal mandates being imposed on states. It’s a fundamental belief in conservative circles that we should have fewer unfunded mandates and more local control. Republican-sponsored SB 1070 flies in the face of these principles. Here’s one way to look at it. The Arizona Legislature was so frustrated that the federal government wasn’t stepping up and dealing with illegal immigration that it passed a law MANDATING that local jurisdictions had to do it. The state didn’t offer cities and counties any money to accomplish this, nor did the state step forward and offer its own resources, such as the National Guard. Local governing bodies were not just told that they could enforce immigration laws but also that they had to, or they could be sued. By any definition, this is an unfunded mandate that supersedes local control. Chalk it up to the ends justifying the means.

On the anti-SB 1070 side, I was surprised at how out of touch opponents were with the average Arizonan’s view on the issue. Polls started reporting that 70 percent of Arizonans supported the new law even in the face of national criticism and boycotts. Most opponents to SB 1070 chalked this up to bad polling and inaccurate data. Everybody must have gotten it wrong though, because those numbers have pretty much held up for the last few months. In fact, a number of other states report similar support, and we can expect more states passing this type of legislation. People are frustrated.

I have to admit, I wasn’t too fond of SB 1070 when it passed. But one morning while watching CNN, President Obama helped me to become frustrated. In light of his opposition to Arizona’s new law and the understanding that the federal government was negligent in dealing with the issue, he claimed that U.S. immigration policy was not a pressing current national priority. This was just after SB 1070 passed! What I heard him saying was, “Ask not what your country can do for you. And don’t ask what you can do for your country either!”

Then there is the question of why the federal government has never protested when other local jurisdictions in America have declared themselves “safe-harbor” areas for illegal immigrants. It seems they are establishing national immigration policy in the opposite direction, and yet, the federal government has failed to protest these policies or voice any public opposition.

I don’t believe that SB 1070 is really worth the national hype it has received. The courts have struck down the portion that local jurisdictions opposed most. If the courts hadn’t, would this really have been the solution to the illegal immigration problem in our country? It seems we need to establish a stronger, more practical border policy before much of any immigration policy reform is going to help.

Gov. Jan Brewer showed poorly in debate

Don’t Expect A Second Gubernatorial Debate

The candidates for governor will have one debate this year and it was last night. Who won? Well, any answer to that is subjective. Most news agencies (and friends on Facebook) are reporting that Gov. Jan Brewer showed poorly. She seemed uncomfortable right from the start, and I even discussed with one friend whether she was properly prepared or not.

So, if it is so obvious that she did badly, what does that mean for the race? I believe it means nothing.

In the past few months, Brewer has been elevated to the national level. Her support for SB 1070 has made her a regular subject on most cable news channels and their websites. She has become a national figure on the immigration issue and in direct conversation with President Obama.

So back to last night’s debate. Wait! First let’s talk debate strategies. Campaign 101 says that when you have a strong candidate who is well ahead in the polls (Rasmussen Polling has Brewer up 19%) don’t debate your opponent. You give them attention and credibility that they may struggle to get on their own. Because Brewer is a Clean Elections Candidate (publicly financed), she is required to attend at least one debate.

OK, now let’s go back to last night. She didn’t look good. With 60+ days to go before Election Day and a large lead, I would say this was like taking the medicine quickly and getting it over. Within 30 days this debate will be mostly forgotten as early balloting begins. I believe that Brewer and her staff are probably pretty happy that the debate was early and that it’s done. Now her campaign will become about her dialoguing when she wants and how she wants while the Democratic candidate, Terry Goddard, will continue to chase her around and demand more debates. He will most likely never get them.

If you are an outraged Democrat who finds this to be unfair, remember, this was the same strategy former Gov. Janet Napolitano used against Len Munsil in the last Arizona’s governor’s race (She actually gave him a second debate in Tucson that wasn’t broadcast statewide).

Brewer may have lost the debate last night, but the war is still pretty much in her control.

You can see the debate in its entirety at www.azpbs.org.

american flag, protest

Legal Arizona Workers Act Does Not Cause Expected Upheaval

In 2007, the state of Arizona made its first foray into “immigration reform” when it passed the Legal Arizona Workers Act. However, before the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) even became effective on Jan. 1, 2008, the Legislature went to work on amending the statute, presumably to “cure” some of the more controversial aspects of the law.

While the fundamental purpose and structure of LAWA has not changed, employers need to be aware of the current version of the law in order to limit the chances of being on the receiving end of an enforcement action. For example, the same legislation that tweaked LAWA also criminalized the act of knowingly accepting identity information from someone who is not actually the person represented in that identity information. Nevertheless, recent trends reported by a researcher from the University of Arizona suggest the enforcement tsunami that was expected to hit the business community is, up to now, little more than a ripple in a pond.

LAWA prohibits employers from “knowingly” or “intentionally” employing any unauthorized alien workers after 2007, and creates stiff penalties for employers who do. Penalties for first violations include mandatory probation for, and possible temporary suspension of, all business licenses issued by the state of Arizona. For a second violation during the probationary period, whether knowing or intentional, employers face permanent revocation of their state-issued licenses — thus effectively preventing the employer from doing business in Arizona. LAWA also requires every Arizona employer to verify new hire work eligibility through the federal government’s E-Verify system. However, LAWA created no “penalty” for failure to use E-Verify. So an employer who becomes the target of an enforcement action will likely be presumed to have “knowingly” hired an undocumented worker if that employer failed to use E-Verify. Evidently, most employers have decided either to roll the dice or they simply don’t recognize a risk. According to Department of Homeland Security data, as of late August 2008, only 5.6 percent of Arizona employers have enrolled in E-Verify.

Non-participation in E-Verify is not an option for contractors and subcontractors of any Arizona governmental entity. The LAWA amendments passed last year require those employers to participate in E-Verify as a condition of their government contract. In fact, any Arizona governmental entity (state or any political subdivision) would be prohibited from awarding a contract if the contractor or subcontractor does not comply with federal immigration laws and E-Verify requirements. LAWA requires government entities to ensure that their contractors comply with those requirements, and to include the following terms in their contracts:

  • Each contractor or subcontractor must warrant their compliance with LAWA’s provisions.
  • A breach of that warranty is to be deemed a material breach of the contract, subject to penalties up to, and including, termination of the contract.
  • The government entity retains the legal right to inspect the papers of the contractor and subcontractor employees who work on the contract in order to ensure compliance with the warranty.

Also, employers seeking to obtain an economic development incentive from a government entity must first register for and participate in E-Verify, and show proof of doing so. LAWA further requires the Attorney General’s office to, on a quarterly basis, request a list of Arizona employers registered with E-Verify from the Department of Homeland Security. The Attorney General must make that list available to the public on its Web site.

So far, enforcement actions against employers have been anemic at best. Judith Gans, manager of the Immigration Policy Program at the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, prepared a study on the preliminary impact of LAWA on immigration trends and businesses in Arizona. She found that not a single superior court enforcement action was filed during the first year of LAWA’s existence. The number of complaints filed with each county attorney during that period was one or none in nine out of Arizona’s 15 counties. The Pima County attorney reported only five complaints, four of which were declined because they involved individuals hired before 2008. The Maricopa County attorney’s office stated that it does not keep track of the number of reported complaints, and those that are filed reportedly are turned over to the county sheriff for investigation. Notwithstanding a number of high profile “raids” conducted by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2008, as reported in the local media at the time, no complaints have resulted in a LAWA enforcement action to date.

Finally, LAWA’s potentially adverse impact on Arizona’s economy has been negligible, or is simply undetectable. According to Gans’ study, the current recession has had a disproportionately adverse impact on business sectors that rely heavily on immigrant labor, such as construction. Therefore, because employment of all workers in those sectors, including immigrant labor, has been hard hit as a result of the current economic meltdown, any “LAWA-effect” has been masked.