Arizona's employer sanctions law is long overdue, at least that's the opinion of Maurice Flores, the superintendent of the Kingman Unified School District.
"In my estimation, the problem with illegal immigrants would have been solved 10 years ago if there had been sanctions on employers," Flores said.
Also known as the Legal Arizona Worker's Act, House Bill 2779 was passed June 20, 2007 by the state Legislature and signed into law July 2 by Gov. Janet Napolitano.
If challenges to its constitutionality proposed by the National Federation for Independent Business, American Civil Liberties Union and other entities fail, the law will take effect Jan. 1.
The law would punish employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants through suspension of their business license for 10 days for a first offense. A second offense would lead to permanent revocation of the license.
In addition, businesses must verify employment eligibility of new hires through a federal database.
The Legislature may have to clarify the law, as wording does not make it clear whether it applies only to those hired on or after Jan. 1, 2008, or whether it would be retroactive to current employees.
The KUSD, which has nearly 1,000 employees, is in good shape, Flores said; the district does not face a problem in either case.
"We do more screening than normal because our employees work around students and we protect them to the nth degree," he said.
Employment screening in the KUSD includes fingerprint and driver's license checks, along with verification of Social Security number. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Friday challenging the law, which would seem to put it on schedule to take effect Jan. 1.
U.S. District Judge Neil Wake ruled that business and immigrant rights groups filing the challenge sued the wrong government officials in trying to block enforcement of the law.
County attorneys have enforcement power under the law and should have been named in the suit, the judge said, according the Associated Press.
A second lawsuit was filed Sunday night naming the state's 15 county attorneys, Attorney General Terry Goddard, and Fidelis Garcia, director of the Arizona Registrar of Contractors as defendants.
Lawyers for the groups challenging the law also plan to seek a temporary restraining order to allow a judge time to determine constitutionality of the law.