Paying the Bill on Arizona’s New Immigration Bill
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 A year later, Riverside rescinded the law — after racking up $82,000 in legal fees alone.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.
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.”