IMPLEMENTATION COSTS OF STATE-BASED IMMIGRATION LAWS
In 2011, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee abandoned “Arizona-style” bills after official fiscal notes estimated that those bills would cost state and local government agencies tens of millions of dollars to build the necessary bureaucracy and conduct training and government oversight, among other expenses related to implementation. At a time when many communities are facing budget cuts—especially to their police departments, who would bear the brunt of immigration enforcement costs—this extra expense to do a federal job just didn’t cut it. In addition to these estimated costs, there is also the certainty of extensive legal costs, as both the federal government and civil rights groups have sued the states to protect the Constitution and civil rights.
• $40 million in Kentucky—in a best-case scenario. Legislative staff in Kentucky estimated its immigration bill would have cost $89 million over several years to implement. Even assuming the state could save tens of millions in social services and would lose no tax revenues from immigrants who left (assumptions which ignore reality), the net impact of the bill would have been a $40 million loss to the state.
• $11 million each year in Louisiana. Representative Ernest Wooton abandoned his attempt to pass an Arizona-style law in 2011 once he saw the state legislature’s estimate of its price tag: $11 million in enforcement, training, and other implementation costs. “I don’t have $11 million in my pocket,” he said when he withdrew the bill.
• $5 million in year one and $2.8 million in subsequent years in Tennessee. Between the costs to the state government itself and the Tennessee constitutional requirement that the state government pick up at least some of the costs incurred by local governments, Tennessee’s 2011 anti-immigrant bill would have cost an estimated $5 million in 2011 and $2.8 million for every year after that.
•$1.5 million in legal costs in Arizona, in the first year alone. As of February 2011, only nine months after Arizona’s law was passed, the state had spent $1.5 million defending it in court. That number is certainly higher now, and by the time the first of the seven lawsuits filed against it is settled by the Supreme Court in June, it will be higher still.
America’s Voice Education Fund
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