Arizona Immigration Law: Small Biz Friend or Foe?


The highly debated Arizona immigration law took effect Thursday, albeit with a little less of a controversial bite than expected, as Wednesday a US judge blocked its most controversial provisions.

What do the mom-and-pops on the frontlines in the Grand Canyon State think about the reform? asked Arizona small business owners: Do you think the new immigration law will help or hurt your business? Here’s what they had to say.


I don’t think it’ll affect our business much. We don’t employ illegals and we don’t take them down the river. We use the state’s eVerify program to make sure all our employees are legal. I do think my life would be in danger if I lived near the boder, which is not secure. We have a huge problem with drug trafficking and human trafficking. You’d think the job of any government would be to secure its borders and protect its citizens. Arizona wants the federal government to address this issue and do their job. But for some reason, D.C. doesn’t think it’s important. 

I think the law is good for Arizona and would be good for the entire country if the Feds let it go into effect. But a government that can spend money we don’t have is one I don’t have much faith in.

-Joyce Staveley, co-owner of Canyoneers rafting company in Flagstaff


I’m a commercial photographer, specializing in corporate-event photography. My clients typically book events such as incentive trips, sales meetings, and conferences up to a year in advance. Lots of corporations and organizations already are canceling meetings in Arizona because of the new law. If they don’t come, I don’t work. That’s the bottom line. Whether the new law is right or wrong, it’s still hurting the economy and hurting my pocketbook.-Larry Rubino, owner of Rubino West Photography in Scottsdale


I have already seen the good effects of the new immigration law. I am in the pest and weed control business. I pay huge license fees to use restricted pesticides. What affects me is the unlicensed person working in my business. I compete with the yard man, the landscaper, who often is illegal and unlicensed. It’s hard for me to compete against people who are off the radar. As best I can tell, they began disappearing about a month ago, as the law’s effective date came near.

-Phyllis M Farenga, owner of Pest Techs in Marana


It’s already hurt me. For 28 years, I’ve owned a business reconditioning luxury autos and aircraft. Two years ago, I had 10 employees. I knew some of them were illegal. Under the state law that went into effect in January 2008, they filled out the necessary paperwork and were ‘grandfathered in.’

My guys were good to stay with me, but with the new law, four of them were too afraid. One who left had been with me 14 years, the one who’d been with me the least was seven years. They gave no notice, just came in to work, said thanks for the job and moved to Las Vegas. They were really good tradesmen in a very physically demanding job. Now I’m in a world of hurt. Not that I’m totally against the law, I just wish my guys had paper work.

-Perry Dodd, owner of European Detail Specialists in Phoenix


I think it’ll probably hurt my business in long run, because some of my clients are being hurt already. A lot of my business involves the hospitality industry – hotels and restaurants. There already are groups cancelling trips and meetings. People from other states are reluctant to come here. We’re already hurt in the Phoenix area by the bad economy, to begin with. And now this.

-Julie Levitch, managing director of Sourdough Communications in Scottsdale


I think the new law will be good for everyone. It’s about time. If people want to be here legally, they should obtain the proper documentation like everyone else. The Mexicans have different standards of living; when you’re living here, you see it. The president doesn’t understand this; he’s not down here. I don’t typically run into illegals in with my massage clinic, but I usually see them when I go to WalMart about five miles away. And I’ve seen a major dropoff in Mexican license plates in the past few weeks.

-Elizabeth Wosoba, owner of Beth’s Massage Clinic in Tucson


The bill itself didn't hurt Arizona, it is the way it was presented via public relations. Our governor never went on the political [talk] shows … She hid her head in the sand hoping it would go away. This didn't work. Thanks to the way it was handled, it has decimated Arizona's economy for the next three decades.

-Richard Kelleher, sociologist/blogger in Phoenix


The boycott around the country is hurting the small businesses [that] are based in Arizona. The backbone of business in an entrepreneurial state like Arizona is the smaller businesses, and when we have less visitors and cities that declare they won't do business with us, then the real loser in this debate are businesses.

-Marc Joseph, president of DollarDays International, Inc., Scottsdale


The new law could slow business down some, but as much money as we spend hauling people back and forth across the border every day, we’ll probably save some money.

I don’t think it’ll affect my business much. I fix cars, they don’t bring many of them across the border. I think it’ll be good, it’ll help keep a handle on things. If the Russians or the French were on the border, we’d need to keep an eye on them. The Mexicans are the ones coming over. I don’t think we should target them, but if something’s going on, we have the right to ask them about it.

-Mike Fischella, owner of Tune Tech in Tucson


I think the new law will be fine for my business. It makes sense, it’s comprehensive and allows the U.S. to have more control over who’s coming into country. If you go to Europe, you show documentation. Why not here? Why would America be immune to that? It’s been very easy for people to come in and out. The new law represents privilege and respect for boundaries.

Now if the media continues to hyperventilate about this issue, that could cause people to be a little more leery of coming to Arizona, but an intelligent person won’t base their decision on information they get from the media.

-Deborah Van De Putte, realtor in Tucson