As President Barack Obama called this week for the House to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, which includes expanded employment verification rules, you could have heard an audible groan from some small-business owners.
An immigration measure passed by the Senate last month would have far-reaching effects on all Americans looking for work, as well as on employers seeking to hire them.
Some smaller companies say that meeting employment verification requirements would be costly and further add to their uncertainty, which has hampered job creation. The bipartisan bill that cleared the Senate says that within five years all employers must use the system called E-Verify to check the legal work eligibility of every job candidate, including U.S. citizens.
"We expect it to be a significant fixed cost," said J. Kelly Conklin, president of an architectural woodworking firm in Bloomfield, N.J. "It's going to be a complete pain in the neck."
But other small-business owners argue E-Verify would create a much-needed level playing field among employers.
"I am tired of losing work to people who cheat the system and under cut my prices because they don't have the same overhead as I have because I follow the rules," said Charlie Arnold, who has been running a power-washing business in Lewes, Delaware for 13 years. "I am for it simply because in the long run it will help my business," Arnold said.
The discussions about such a sweeping immigrtion mandate spooks Main Street, a traditional driver of economic recoveries. Faced with issues that include mandatory federal spending cuts and looming expenses associated with Obamacare, smaller employers have largely postponed big-ticket decisions such as taking on more workers.
Small businesses account for roughly half of private sector jobs, and though hiring plans rose slightly, according to the latest June reading from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the incremental upticks haven't been overwhelming.
Delays to the Affordable Care Act have exacerbated the uncertainty. The Obama administration recently announced a one-year delay, until 2015, in implementation of its mandate that larger employers provide health coverage for workers or face penalties.
(Read more: Delay in Obamacare could save jobs—for now)
How such revisions might affect smaller employers remains to be seen.
"You're just guessing," NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg told CNBC last week. "As many as 40 percent of the small businesses out there say ... they've put all their growth plans on hold. About as many, about 38 percent or so, said we just have a freeze on hiring until we find what's really happening in this market. And that's certainly not conducive to job growth."
(Read more: Customers remain 'scarce and cautious': NFIB)