By AMANDA LEE MYERS (AP) – Apr 28, 2010
PHOENIX — Many of the cars that once stopped in the Home Depot parking lot to pick up day laborers to hang drywall or do landscaping now just drive on by.
Arizona's sweeping immigration bill allows police to arrest illegal immigrant day laborers seeking work on the street or anyone trying to hire them. It won't take effect until summer but it is already having an effect on the state's underground economy.
"Nobody wants to pick us up," Julio Loyola Diaz says in Spanish as he and dozens of other men wait under the shade of palo verde trees and lean against a low brick wall outside the east Phoenix home improvement store.
Many day laborers like Diaz say they will leave Arizona because of the law, which also makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and directs police to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants.
Supporters of the law hope it creates jobs for thousands of Americans.
"We want to drive day labor away," says Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, one of the law's sponsors.
An estimated 100,000 illegal immigrants have left Arizona in the past two years as it cracked down on illegal immigration and its economy was especially hard hit by the Great Recession. A Department of Homeland Security report on illegal immigrants estimates Arizona's illegal immigrant population peaked in 2008 at 560,000, and a year later dipped to 460,000.