In April, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the strictest immigration reform bill currently on the books. The bill enables Arizona law enforcement to detain people they suspect to be in this country illegally — authority usually reserved for the federal government. It is now also illegal to not carry immigration papers in the state.

The bill has met harsh criticism across the United States for fear it will lead to racial profiling. But the one silver lining for critics would be if it forced the federal government to finally make a serious push for immigration reform that has eluded this country for years. Unfortunately, that probably won't happen until next year. President Barack Obama has urged the Senate to begin drafting reform legislation, but acknowledges that it is an election year, which will stall the proceedings. Yet another excuse in what's turning out to be a long line of excuses.

In 2007, after a bipartisan immigration reform bill died twice in the Senate, politicians decided to table the issue until after 2008 presidential election. During his winning campaign, Obama pledged to address immigration once elected. However, his attention was given to health care reform instead. And now that immigration is back in the public eye, we're back to saying, "but it's an election year."

Seventeen percent of
illegal immigrants work in
the cleaning industry

Building service contractors really don't have the luxury of waiting. Of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, studies show that 17 percent of them work in the cleaning industry. The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is on pace to serve nearly 3,000 inspection notices this year. One recent inspection caused New York-based ABM Industries to fire 475 janitors in San Francisco after it was discovered that their immigration statuses were not legal.

While we wait for Washington, it's critical that contractors do what they can now to avoid hiring illegal immigrants. Use the ICE E-Verify system to check that applicant names match their Social Security numbers, train HR employees how to correctly complete the I-9 form and conduct background checks to help detect fraudulent documents.