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Pearce sets out to eliminate ‘sanctuary’ policies, create new fines for businesses

In addition to granting civil subpoena power to county attorneys for employer sanctions investigations, Sen. Russell Pearce is working on other legislation to crack down on illegal immigration in Arizona.

At the top of the list is eliminating “sanctuary city” policies of local governments that Pearce has described as shielding illegal immigrants from being brought to justice. The policies, he said, prevent law enforcement officers from investigating a person’s immigration status except under certain circumstances.

“It seems rather disappointing to me that we have to pass laws to get current laws enforced,” he said.

Pearce’s push for new legislation next year likely will be similar to efforts he has championed in previous years, which have failed to win enough support from lawmakers and were later placed on the ballot. But he said he isn’t relying on the legislative process this time.

“I’d rather get it done in the Legislature, but I’ll go to the ballot with it if I have to,” he said. “And if it gets there, it’ll pass by 75- or 80-percent.”

Other pieces of immigration legislation in the works from Pearce include making it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit work as day laborers, as well as for anyone with an Arizona business license to hire illegal workers temporary jobs. Under the proposal, illegal immigrants could be charged with a misdemeanor and the businesses could be fined $1,000 for every illegal immigrant who is picked up for work. The vehicle used to transport illegal workers could be impounded for 30 days.

Another proposal would make it a crime for a business to avoid using the federal E-Verify system when hiring employees. Right now, the employer sanctions law requires businesses use the system, but provides no penalty if they fail to do so.

“Your (business) license would be conditional on using it,” Pearce said.

Click to read “Employer sanctions coming up short”

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