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Apr. 25 2010 - 1:03 pm | 794 views | 0 recommendations | 5 comments

Paying the Bill on Arizona’s New Immigration Bill

Map of USA with Arizona highlighted

Image via Wikipedia

According to a DC-based think-tank, when Arizona’s new immigration law goes into effect in three months, residents of a state still struggling with a three-billion dollar deficit will discover that SB1070 comes with an unexpected consequence: a price tag that could run into the tens of billions.

Red State Blues

“At a purely administrative level, Gov. Brewer should take into consideration the potential costs of implementation and defending the state against lawsuits,” concludes the Immigration Policy Center (IPC).

The group points out that even less stringent measures became financial nightmares in other places. Take tiny Riverside, New Jersey, for example. In 2006, the Township Committee passed a law imposing a fine for employing or housing illegal immigrants. A year later, Riverside rescinded the law — after racking up $82,000 in legal fees alone.

Mayor George Conard told the New York Times, “I don’t think people knew there would be such an economic burden. A lot of people did not look three years out.” Conard wasn’t just playing politics. He himself had voted for the costly measure.

The situation was even worse for Hazelton, Pennsylvania, which found itself owing $2.4 million in attorney fees for challenges to the city’s “Illegal Immigration Relief Act.” (The 2006 law has never been in effect — a court ruled that it couldn’t be implemented until legal challenges are complete.)

Citing estimates from the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, the IPC points to the financial perils of “getting tough” on Arizona’s immigrant workers whose economic output was $44 billion in 2004. Not to mention the possible effects on the 35,000 Latino-owned businesses in Arizona.

Photo by Osha Gray Davidson

The IPC doesn’t consider potential lost revenue to tourism and conventions if t movement to boycott the state — which has already begun — grows as it did after Arizona refused to declare a holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has already canceled it’s national convention, which was scheduled this fall at the Scottsdale Marriott.

“As an association, we couldn’t in good conscience spend the association’s money in a state that has this kind of policy,” a representative of the AILA told the Arizona Republic last Friday.

Even if ruled invalid by a court — and not appealed — at least some of the harmful effects that began when Governor Jan Brewer signed the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” may have a lasting negative effect on the state’s economy.

That’s one hard lesson Riverside, New Jersey, Mayor George Conard says he learned from the township’s experiment with “getting tough” on illegal immigrants.

The law, he said, “put us on the national map in a bad way.”


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  1. collapse expand

    This reporter may be correct. But if you look at the forums, and there are about 80 that I know of, the support for this bill is staggering. Just overwhelming. We want that bill as a Federal Bill, and if ever we have gotten close to expressing ourselves on the Immigration Matter, this is it.

    And I ask you, if the law is successfully overturned with some 80% of the people supporting it, (Arizona, and possibly the United States) what does it tell you? Actually it tells you tort reform was long overdue before the Democrats passed the very ugly Medical Bill.

    We want that sort of law in place at the Federal Level. We cannot get it. We are looking a whole lot less like a democracy, and a whole lot more like an oligarchy and it does not bode well for the country.

  2. collapse expand

    Hmmm. Isn’t expense the same reason pro-nuclear, pro-coal, pro-consumption people give for maintaining the status quo? Besides the subsidy we pay in CA for illegal immigration is about $7 billion to educate their children and $1 billion to incarcerate those felons (murder, rape, theft, etc.) That’s just for starters. The impact on health care costs, the closing of emergency rooms, the bidding down of wages by 3-7% (see Harvards’ George Borjas). Get a grip on reality, Osha.

  3. collapse expand

    Whatever it costs is worth every penny…..the first government program of any value in the history of man….push them back all the way to mexico

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