Sonoran Officials Slam Sanctions Law in Tucson Visit

Sheryl Kornman, Tucson Citizen, January 16, 2008

A delegation of nine state legislators from Sonora was in Tucson on Tuesday to say Arizona’s new employer sanctions law will have a devastating effect on the Mexican state.

At a news conference, the legislators said Sonora—Arizona’s southern neighbor, made up of mostly small towns—cannot handle the demand for housing, jobs and schools it will face as illegal Mexican workers here return to their hometowns without jobs or money.

The law, which took effect Jan.1, punishes employers who knowingly hire individuals who don’t have valid legal documents to work in the United States. Penalties include suspension or loss of a business license.

Its intent is to eliminate or curtail the top draw for immigrants to this country—jobs.

The Mexican delegation, members of Sonora’s 58th Legislature, belong to the National Action Party (PAN), the party of Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón.

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“How can they pass a law like this?” asked Mexican Rep. Leticia Amparano Gamez, who represents Nogales.

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“Mexico is not prepared for this, for the tremendous problems” it will face as more and more Mexicans working in Arizona and sending money to their families return to hometowns in Sonora without jobs, she said.

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Amparano said the Mexican legislators are already asking the federal government of Mexico for help for Sonora.

Rep. Florencio Diaz Armenta, coordinator of the delegation, represents San Luis, south of Yuma, one of Arizona’s agricultural hubs, which employs some 28,000 legal Mexican workers.

“What do we do with the repatriated?” he asked. “As Mexicans, we are worried. They are Mexicans but they are also people—fathers and mothers and young people with jobs” who won’t have work in Sonora.”

He said the Arizona law will lead to “disintegration of the family,” as one “legal” Mexican parent remains in Arizona and the other returns to Mexico.

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