iStock_000003078836Medium.jpgOn April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed an immigration bill entitled, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” (pdf) which among other things, requires state and local law enforcement officials to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of a person with whom they have lawful contact and reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States.  Set aside for a moment the vast controversy that the signing of this bill has stirred up across the nation, and focus on what this law means for employers in Arizona.

The short answer is not much.  Although the new bill amends existing law by providing an entrapment defense to employers facing state and local enforcement of federal immigration law for knowingly or intentionally employing unauthorized aliens, it does very little to change the existing law regarding employers.

The new law will increase the number of employees who may be detained by local and state law enforcement and simply not appear for work.  Realistically, however, since most employers in Arizona have been participating in E-Verify for some time, this effect should be minimal as their employees are not likely to be among those detained under the new law.  Why?  Because the employees are either authorized to work or have obtained excellent identity documents that have already passed muster with the federal government’s system to verify work authorization.  Nevertheless, employers may face a slightly increased risk of investigation as a result of an increased rate of detention of employees under the new law.