The US Supreme Court’s AZ Immigration Decision Could Spell Trouble For The Construction IndustryOn June 7, 2011 By Scott Wolfe Jr
By now you’re heard the news that the United States Supreme Court has upheld the controversial Arizona immigration law allowing states to shut down businesses that hire illegal workers.
A pointed summary of law’s effects is found in the above-linked WSJ article:
The Legal Arizona Workers Act requires employers to use a federal system called E-Verify to check employees’ legal status. It says the state can revoke charters or licenses from employers that repeatedly hire noncitizens lacking work permits. Signing the legislation in 2007, then-Gov. Janet Napolitano called it the “business death penalty.”
The Supreme Court’s decision adds fuel to the E-Verify debate, which we have discussed on this blog in exhausting detail. The E-Verify system is currently very confusing to contractors. Regulations previously promised to make it mandatory, and those were abandoned two or three times, with the system now being mostly voluntary. There are, however, exceptions, as it is required on certain federally funded projects, and on all projects in Mississippi, South Carolina, and Arizona. It is required on state projects in Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina.
The consequences of not following the E-Verify requirements can be severe (see the AZ “death penalty” law), and unfortunately, most contractors are just flat-out confused about how to use the system, when to use it, and what to do when if something turns up about an employee when using it.
The USSC’s sanction of the AZ law demonstrates just how severe penalties for non-compliance can be, and it confirms that the federal government and states can fight illegal workers by penalizing the businesses for using illegal labor. State legislation and federal legislation targeting businesses is likely to follow this big decision. Ensure you don’t get penalized by getting informed and active with the E-Verify program immediately.