AFP has a dramatic, sob-story article about how Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law is beginning to cause what they dub 'Hispanic Panic.' It seems employers are firing illegals, many of whom are fleeing the state, either back to Mexico or to other states. But they apparently slipped in telling this narrative and left something in that bears paying attention to.
PHOENIX, Arizona (AFP) – One month after Arizona introduced a law cracking down on businesses which employ illegal immigrants, Latino workers are fleeing the state and companies are laying off employees in droves, officials and activists say.
Arizona has become one of the frontlines of the US immigration debate and broke new ground on January 1 with a law that threatens to put of business companies which knowingly hire undocumented workers.
The effects of the law have been immediate, according to businessmen, workers and rights activists who spoke to AFP, with companies driving up wages to attract labor while being forced to part company with prized employees.
Even though a federal judge ruled last week that there will be no prosecutions under the law until March, it has done little to prevent a phenomenon being dubbed "Hispanic Panic."
"There's a lot of fear and some people are leaving," said Salvador Reza, an immigrant-rights activist who runs a day labor center in Phoenix.
"The fear is not only at the worker level, it's at the employer level. I've never seen that before in my life."
Workers are going back to Mexico or to other states, Reza said. He predicted small businesses forced to lay off skilled employees like welders will now pay them in cash, creating a black economy.
"The underground economy is going to take hold now, and there will be less money for the state," Reza said.
Ten men were laid off at Ironco, a steel fabrication company in Phoenix which builds large-scale construction projects.
"We had to let them go," president Sheridan Bailey said. "Unfortunately some of these people were our best workers. This is terribly tragic."
Two out of three men who apply at Ironco, a construction firm that specialises in buildings and parking garages made with heavy steel, are Hispanic or foreign-born Hispanic, the company said.
Ironco has raised steel fitters' wages 30 percent from a year ago, according to Bailey. "We've raised wages, competing for a diminishing supply (of workers)," he said. "WeÂ?ve been on a campaign of quality improvement, training, scouring the waterfront, so to speak, for American vets, ex-offenders trying to find their way back into society."
Catch that? Wages have risen 30% for legal workers. They have been trying to hire people who have been forced to the margins of society due to a flood of cheap, illegal workers. And they are paying much better wages in order to do so. High fence, wide gate and a hearty welcome for those who play by the rules. And higher real wages for those who do.
I don't think they meant to tell that in their narrative.