The Immigration Policy Center(IPC), established in 2003, is the policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society.
In April 2010, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070, entitled “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (“SB1070). SB1070 established several immigration-related state offenses and defined the immigration-enforcement authority of Arizona’s state and local law enforcement officers. Although much of the law has been enjoined by the courts on the ground that Federal immigration law pre-empts state authority regarding immigration, the passage of SB1070 has inspired legislators in other states to pass similar legislation.
Since SB1070 passed, 36 other states have attempted to pass harsh immigration-control laws. Of those, 31 states have rejected or refused to advance their bills. Five states—Utah, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama—have, however, passed laws that mirror or go beyond the Arizona law. The IPC believes it is likely additional states will attempt to pass similar anti-immigrant legislation during the 2012 legislative session.
The rationale underlying such legislation is simple: a belief that if a state passes tough immigration laws, illegal immigrants will pack up and move away. It is obvious that none of the states that pass such laws have considered the economic and social consequences.
IPC has just issued two new publications on restrictive state immigration laws. The first, Q&A Guide to State Immigration Laws: What You Need to Know if Your State is Considering Anti-Immigrant Legislation, provides key answers to basic questions about state immigration-related laws—from the substance of the legislation and myths surrounding the debate to the legal and fiscal implications. This is an updated version of an IPC guide issued in 2010. The second publication, Bad for Business: How Harsh Anti-Immigration Legislation Drains Budgets and Damages States’ Economies, outlines some of the economic and fiscal lessons from states that have passed harsh immigration-control legislation. For example, a 2011 study by Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda and Marshall Fitz deporting all of the unauthorized immigrants in Arizona would decrease total employment by 17.2%, eliminate 581,000 jobs for immigrants and native-born workers alike, shrink the state economy by $48.8 billion, and reduce state tax revenues by 10.1%. A similar study, Revitalizing the Golden State, by the IPC and the Center for American Progress found that that if all of the undocumented workers in California were deported, the state would lose $301.6 billion in economic activity, decrease total employment by 17.4%, and eliminate 3.6 million jobs.
If your state is considering its own anti-immigrant legislation, please read these IPC publications. Think about it.