Small businesses suffer when local governments try to enforce federal immigration laws. Indeed, bad immigration policy is bad business. Suffolk County is a case in point.
The Suffolk County Legislature is considering a local version of the federal E-Verify system – an error-ridden, electronic employment verification program. Under this misguided proposal, local business owners would be responsible for verifying every potential employee’s immigration status. Under its sister legislation, companies that did business with the county would also have to prove that they use the E-verify system. This is a waste of time and money.
Businesses are already required to verify workers’ employment eligibility through the I-9 form. Mandating that all employers implement the local E-Verify system would place unnecessary burden and expense on local businesses while doing nothing to stop unscrupulous employers from hiring workers under the table. Requiring the county to conduct business only with those who implement the system would discourage companies from doing business with us.
Business leaders have the right and the responsibility to oppose bad immigration policies. They need to be empowered to fight for better policies, and we, as immigrants’ rights advocates, can give them the tools to do so.
In the next chapter of the NYCLU’s 2011 immigrants’ rights campaign, we will hold a workshop for the business community on Nov. 17 at Touro Law School. Our three speakers will discuss how immigration enforcement policies affect businesses, discuss how immigrants contribute positively to the economy, and address business owners’ concerns that arise when dealing with these regulations.
In Arizona and Alabama, we have already seen the negative effects of anti-immigrant laws on local commerce. In Arizona, tourists cancelled vacations and businesses and trade associations moved their conferences elsewhere. In Alabama, Latino residents fled en masse, harming the state’s economy. Driving immigrants away through poor immigration policy would be disastrous on Long Island, where immigrants own one-quarter of businesses.
Long Island can do better, and we will do better. We already know that immigrants have a strong, positive impact on the economy; now we need to make sure everyone knows. Businesses can learn to advocate against costly, nonsensical immigration policies. And we can change the way Long Island treats immigrants—together.
Advocating Across Borders: Immigrants, Businesses and the Economy
Thursday, November 17th at 6:30 p.m.
Touro Law School
Faculty Conference Room
225 Eastview Drive, Central Islip
Patrick Young, Esq.
Central American Refugee Center
David Dyssegaard Kallick
Fiscal Policy Institute
Eric Horn, Esq.
Law Office of Eric Horn