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L.A. Times explains how well illegal immigration enforcement worked in Arizona, and how awful that is for America

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By See-Dubya  •  April 5, 2008 01:52 PM

(Guest post by See-Dubya)

There are some amazing admissions in this article if you wade through the sob stories.

Pearce says the overall effect has been undeniably positive for Arizona. “Smaller class sizes, shorter emergency room waits,” he said. “Even if [illegal immigrants] are paying taxes — and most of them aren’t — the cost to taxpayers is huge.”

The biggest effect has come from the new employer sanctions law, which took effect in January.

The law is fairly straightforward.

Any business caught hiring illegal immigrants is put on probation. If it is caught doing the same thing again, the state revokes its business license.

The only defense for an employer is if it used E-Verify, a federal pilot project to allow businesses to confirm the legality of their laborers.

One of the stories they tell makes a fair point–some naturalized citizens don’t get into the system quickly enough. That’s a problem but a fixable one.

The rest? Well, there’s a woman who was arrested for speeding and driving without a license and taken to the police station in a truck full of illegal immigrants. She claims she was racially profiled. Sounds to me like you should take your license with you when you drive in Maricopa County, and watch the speed limit. And there’s a mercado that catered to illegal workers, whose owner laments that his parking lot is no longer full. And then there’s poor Jorge Hernandez:

The law did what it was supposed to with Jorge Hernandez, a 32-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico. He had been working in a Phoenix tire shop for years when in December his bosses told him they’d have to let him go because of the new law. Now he struggles to support his family by working as a day laborer and is thinking of leaving.

Hernandez dreams of moving to New Mexico, where friends have told him the economy is stronger and sentiment against illegal immigrants weaker. “They don’t have E-Verify there,” he said in Spanish.

Also buried amidst the hand-wringing was this nugget, which is really the best. Hang on, swallow your coffee first:

No one knows how many immigrants have left the state, and the most recent government figures show Arizona growing robustly — as of July, Maricopa was the fastest-growing county in the nation.

But enough immigrants have left that the government of Sonora, the Mexican state bordering Arizona, has complained about how many people have arrived on its doorstep.

I’m going to type that last sentence again, just so you can laugh at it once more:

…enough immigrants have left that the government of Sonora, the Mexican state bordering Arizona, has complained about how many people have arrived on its doorstep.

Dude, that’s twenty-four karat comedy gold.

Back to E-Verify: this hand-wringing reminds me of an op-ed this past summer in the Wall Street Journal by an economist about how we have to stop Federal no-match programs (like e-verify), because they would work too well:

The new no-match program may not catch everybody, but it has the potential to impact the employment of three to four million undocumented workers. With such workers concentrated in just a few big states — California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona and Illinois — the regional impact of the program could be substantial.

Border enforcement keeps some immigrants out, but since it does nothing to remove the jobs magnet pulling workers here, it actually raises the rewards for those who make it in, encouraging more illegal immigration. Fears of no-match letters reflect a simple reality — this could work.

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Last thought: with all three Presidential candidates supporting some flavor of amnesty, and a Congress unlikely to get more conservative on this issue, I’ll bet we see a lot more of these state-level enforcement initiatives–like Arizona’s and Oklahoma’s. Let’s hope programs like E-Verify keep being developed and funded so these states will be able to make their employer enforcement work. As in the case of Jorge Hernandez above, it’s really simple and humane, and it doesn’t even require arresting anyone. Can’t get a job, you move along to where you can–to New Mexico.

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