Local and state governments are enforcing their own new immigration laws, threatening businesses with the loss of operating licenses and fines if they hire illegal immigrants, reports USA Today. Their efforts increased as Congress failed to overhaul the immigration system. “There’s a political vacuum, and state and local governments are moving into it,” says Georgia labor commissioner Michael Thurmond.
Eighteen states have passed 57 immigration laws this year, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than 25 cities and counties passed measures in the past year, says the American Civil Liberties Union. Despite an outcry from business and civil rights groups, many target employers. A Green Bay, WI, ordinance effective June 23 says a firm can lose its business license if it hires illegal workers. “That was a premise of this ordinance, to discourage illegal aliens from coming here by making it harder for them to get a job. We’re putting businesses on notice,” says Chad Fradette, City Council president. A dissenting alderman says, “Let the witch hunt begin.”