The Common Good

New Report: "The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Laws in 2011"

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization) released a report Tuesday on anti-immigration legislation passed or considered by states. The 41-page report focuses primarily on Arizona’s SB 1070, and similar laws, and the effects these had on issues other than immigration.

Since passage of AZ’s SB 1070, 34 states have attempted to advance similar legislation. To date, 27 of those 34 have either rejected or declined to advance said legislation. The five states that have made their own versions of SB 1070 (Utah, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina) have all been sued, and four of the five have been prevented from implementing the law in full. So when we’re talking about states with “anti-immigration legislation”, we are, thankfully, talking about a small number of states.

Among the reasons SB 1070-type bills fail to advance included concerns about monetary cost, threats of litigation, business loans, and damaged state reputation. While there are a number of supermajority Republican state legislatures, many did not pass legislation for some of these reasons, suggesting that even the Republican party is deeply split on immigration as it recognizes the negative effects of SB 1070-type legislation.

Negative effects are already surfacing in Utah, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina in the forms of legal challenges, economic losses, and increased racial discrimination. Consider Arizona’s Balance Sheet below:

     -  $250,000 to boost its image

     -  $434 million in lost direct spending from conference attendees

     -  8,472 jobs lost from conference cancellations and booking declines

     -  $265.5 million in lost earnings

     -  $794 million in lost economic output

     -  $28.8 million in lost taxes

     -  $1.5 million in legal fees

     -  60 CEOs opposing further legislation

     -  5 anti-immigrant bills rejected

     -  1 recall election of the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Russell Pearce

As Christians, we need to let our legislators know that we will not stand for hateful policies. Last week, the state of Georgia released its report on agricultural labor, suggesting that even a “tough state” on immigration is realizing the need for comprehensive reform. Regardless of who determines immigration policies—the state or federal government—we should support every effort towards a fair and just immigration system.

Two thousand Sojourners members have already asked their state representatives to adopt reasonable, humane policies addressing immigrants in their states. NCLR’s new report shows that anti-immigrant legislation is harmful to both people and the economy. Please ask your state legislators to resolve to defend the cause of the immigrant in 2012 and to oppose harmful and hateful SB 1070-type legislation. 

James Colten is a campaigns assistant at Sojourners

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