States Should be Wary of Hefty Costs for Implementation and Lost Economic Activity of State-Level legislation
Washington, DC- As costs mount, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is asking a federal judge to consolidate legal challenges to the state’s “papers, please” immigration law, SB 1070. Brewer’s learning the hard way that when you attack the Constitution, civil society stands up to protect it.
Before legislators on other states follow down the Arizona path, they should do a cost/benefit analysis. Fortunately, many of their colleagues have already done the research for them. Following is a recap of studies that look at the costs to governments, businesses, and taxpayers in states that considered passing immigration crackdowns. They show that state-based immigration laws are expensive to implement, defend, and live with. What’s more, they won’t actually solve the problem, which requires a federal fix.
Instead of adopting costly, divisive, and alienating immigration reforms at the state level, state legislators should pressure Congress to do its job and pass comprehensive immigration reform. This is the only fiscally responsible and practical solution.
ECONOMIC COSTS OF STATE-BASED IMMIGRATION LAWS
Industries like tourism and agriculture stand to suffer tremendously when state-based immigration laws are considered, but a groundbreaking study out of Alabama shows the damage is not confined to certain sectors of the economy. These laws hurt businesses and consumers in various ways.
• Up to $11 billion in a single year in Alabama. University of Alabama economist Dr. Stephen Addy released a study in January 2012 showing that by driving immigrants out of the state, the state’s anti-immigration law would hurt local businesses in myriad ways. The plan would reduce consumer demand and destabilize key industries. A report from the Center of American Progress provides a detailed portrait of the law’s economic impact on the state.
• $490 million to Arizona’s tourism industry in 2010. The group Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform estimated that Arizona’s tourism industry lost $490 million in revenue and 3,000 jobs in 2010 as a result of that state’s law.
• $300 million in unharvested crops alone in Georgia—ultimately taking $1 billion out of the state’s economy. The president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council estimates that labor shortages suffered by Georgia’s agriculture sector after the state’s law went into effect cost $300 million in unharvested crops—causing a “ripple effect” to state and local business that could end up resulting in $1 billion in losses.
America’s Voice Education Fund
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