A ruling yesterday from the U.S. Supreme Court could become a big headache for many hotel owners and operators. The decision upheld an Arizona law that imposes tough penalties on businesses that intentionally hire illegal immigrants. Eight other states have recently passed similar legislation and, given the Supreme Court imprimatur, more states are bound to follow.
We all agree the country's immigration policies are a mess and something—preferably a unified solution that covers all states—needs to be done about it. But placing the onus for enforcement of immigration laws on the backs of mostly small business owners is wrong. The key phrase in the law is “intentionally hire illegal immigrants,” a clause that's ambiguous at best and very difficult to disprove at worst. The result is many business owners will hesitate to hire anyone they even suspect may be here illegally, even if they present what appears to be sufficient proof of their eligibility to work in the U.S.
Many people, especially those of Hispanic dissent, will be unable to get the jobs they need, and hotel owners will be placed under an enforcement microscope, making their already difficult jobs that much harder.
Unfortunately, once the Supreme Court speaks, there is little chance of turning back except for a change in federal law, something Congress is unlikely to take up given the current anti-immigration undertones among the electorate.