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Ariz. operators see job candidates leaving because of immigration law

PHOENIX Arizona restaurateurs are bracing for the Jan. 1 enactment of a new immigration law that allows authorities to suspend or revoke the licenses of businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers.

“We are already seeing potential workers fleeing to other states,” said Steve Chucri, president and chief executive of the Arizona Restaurant & Hospitality Association.  “There are a lot of unknowns about this law.”

The measure, considered the strictest in the nation, is being closely watched by other states. It encourages people to report to county sheriffs or county attorneys any business suspected of employing an illegal immigrant. By suspending or ultimately revoking the license of a restaurant or other establishment that knowingly violates the law, county attorneys can shut down the operation.

The measure also requires all Arizona businesses to use E-Verify, a federal online database, to confirm that new hires – and possibly current employees – have valid Social Security numbers and are eligible for employment.

The AHRA, along with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, has joined two lawsuits – one rejected and now being appealed – to bar enforcement of the law. Chucri said Wednesday that the law still has a lot of confusion around it, but the group is urging operators in the state to be ready to comply with the new provisions.

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