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Kittrie gives expertise at ABA meeting


August 27, 2008

Professor Orde F. Kittrie of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law spoke about Arizona's strict new employer sanctions law, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in New York City on Aug. 8.  Kittrie spoke as part of a panel "The New Immigration Cops: How New State and Local Laws Challenge the Status Quo."  The other two panelists were senior officials from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Kittrie discussed the Act's impact on Arizona's 150,000 licensed businesses, on the Arizona economy, on unauthorized immigrant workers in Arizona, and on Latino citizens living in Arizona.  Although there has yet to be a prosecution of an Arizona employer for violation of the Act, Kittrie said, the law has nevertheless had a significant impact on Arizona businesses and residents.  Maricopa County has reported receiving hundreds of tips alleging violations, said Kittrie, and prosecution of at least one employer seems likely before the end of 2008.  Many Mexican restaurants and several Spanish language radio stations have gone out of business, Kittrie said, adding that a number of Arizona companies are reportedly moving operations across the border to Mexico.

Kittrie said it is difficult to separate the effects of the Act from the effects of the downturn in housing construction and the effects of aggressive enforcement of immigration laws by some Arizona police officials. Together, these factors have contributed to a reported decrease of 18 percent - or 90,000 - in the number of unauthorized immigrants in Arizona since mid-2007, when the Act was passed. Kittrie said the Act also may be connected to the precipitous downturn in the Arizona economy, with taxable sales down some 25 percent between the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008. The Act was upheld by the U.S. District Court for Arizona in February, and an appeal to the 9th Circuit is pending.

Judy Nichols, judith.nichols@asu.edu
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law