The state’s largest business organization wants absolute immunity for companies that use a federal database to check new workers — even if those people are here illegally.
Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Tuesday he wants the new law to include an “irrebuttable presumption” that firms which use the Basic Pilot Program did not knowingly hire undocumented workers and cannot have their state licenses suspended.
But Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said that would be unnecessary and actually would eviscerate the law he crafted. He said it would provide “amnesty” for dishonest companies to “game the system” by accepting documents from new workers the employers know are false — but documents that would not raise red flags when entered into the federal database.
In fact, Hamer conceded the system does allow for just such activity. He said Basic Pilot Program does nothing to prevent identity theft: An entry that has a matching name and social security number will come back valid, even if both pieces of information actually belong to someone else.
But even if Hamer gets legislators to change the law, his organization would still be opposed to the new law — and still intends to join a federal lawsuit seeking to have it voided.
The chamber, though, is not counting on the legislation being altered or overturned before it takes effect Jan. 1. It is planning training sessions with companies to try to teach them how to comply with the law.
“If companies are playing by the rules in good faith, and they’re going through these additional procedures that they have the protection that they’re not going to be subjected to this new state sanction,” he said.
Pearce said employers are protected against having a license suspended for inadvertent mistakes because the law requires prosecutors to prove the company knew the person was not here legally.