Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear Chamber of Commerce v.Candelaria, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce’s legal challenge to the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) — an Arizona law that punishes companies by suspending or revoking their business licenses if they are found to be knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants. Despite its opposition to LAWA, the Chamber has had little to say about about the controversial immigration bill which Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) recently signed into law, SB-1070. Not only is the Chamber curiously remaining silent about a related immigration measure that reinforces LAWA, it has now endorsed Brewer in her race for governor.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce described its decision process in a press release announcing its endorsement of Brewer: “incumbent candidates were evaluated based on their record in office as it relates to the Chamber policy agenda and their commitment to promoting a pro-business agenda.” If that’s the case, the Chamber may want to take another look at how Brewer’s immigration position stands up to their own.
One of the main arguments against LAWA as well as SB 1070 is that the laws are federally pre-empted, or that immigration is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. “Employers are being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of conflicting state and local immigration laws,” said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, in reference to LAWA. Not only did Brewer sign off on a law that goes a lot further than LAWA, the actual effects of SB-1070’s implementation will likely hit business even harder. While LAWA’s scope was limited to employment practices, SB-1070’s focus is on making life miserable for undocumented immigrants. If the law succeeds in its goal of ridding the state of them, it’s estimated that Arizona will lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and approximately 140,324 jobs. The Arizona Republic reported today that some business have already been hurt by their departure.
Conrad also stated that “[t]he Chamber supports comprehensive immigration reform.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce specifically supports an earned path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. However, Brewer believes the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” is “code” for “amnesty” and refuses to have anything to do with it. According to Brewer, any talk of immigration reform is off the table until the government secures the border and closes the “gateway to America for drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and crime.” Considering the fact that statistics show that the border is safer than it’s been in years, it could be a while before Brewer’s perception catches up with reality.
The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has called on Brewer to veto SB-1070, stating it will cause “businesses to move out of Arizona, other organizations to stop doing business with or visit the state and result in job losses.” Meanwhile, in its press release, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce praises Brewer, stating “[n]o governor has done more to lessen the regulations and red tape facing business.” Candidates must receive the support of 60 percent of the Board of Directors to receive an endorsement.