April 30, 2014
What is the impact on Arizona's economy due to anti-immigration Senate Bill 1070?
Nearly half (47%) of all illegal border crossings into the U.S. occur along the Arizona border with Mexico. As the state with the most illegal crossings t the United States/Mexico border, its remote and dangerous deserts are the entry point for thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans(Cooper). The non-native citizen population has grown rapidly in this area. Arizona had an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants in April 2010, a figure that had increased fivefold since 1990.(Cooper). Illegal immigration, like most other issues has an upside and a downside. On the upside, there is a steady workforce for the labor industry (agriculture, construction, etc.), and the service industry (restaurants). The agricultural industry in Arizona is comprised of 59% immigrants, the construction industry is made up of 27% workers not native to the United States, and the service industry is populated by 22% foreign born employees. On the downside, illegal immigration brings its share of problems including crime, poverty, uncirculated funds (pay not reintroduced into the economy in which it was originated), and an overburden on social services. It is the latter that sparked the now controversial Senate Bill 1070 that effectively closes the border to all but the few lucky enough to obtain legal status.
The major sponsor of, and legislative force behind the bill was State Senator Russell Pearce, who had long been one of Arizona's most vocal opponents of illegal immigration.(Rossi) Senator Pearce had a long history of fighting illegal immigration in Arizona, until he was the first Senator recalled by the people of Arizona in November 2011, just 1 year and 7 months after Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into act in April of 2010. As Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said at the bill-signing: "Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state […] We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life."(Lindsay)
SB1070 provisions are "intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States"(United States) This bill, however, does not make it illegal for illegal immigrants to be in Arizona:
"U.S. federal law requires aliens 14 years old or older who are in the country for longer than 30 days to register with the U.S. government and have registration documents in their possession at all times. The Act makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents and obligates police to make an attempt, when practicable during a "lawful stop, detention or arrest", to determine a person's immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien."(United States)
In June of 2012, the supreme court overruled three major provisions of SB1070 because they were infringing on federal jurisdictions. Kept was the provision to allow law enforcement officers to check a suspected illegal immigrants status, the most controversial of the provisions. Opponents of the Senate Bill cite racial profiling as the outcome of such a provision.
Losing such a large percentage of a state's workforce could prove devastating to its economy. In the nearly 3 years since its inception, has the Senate Bill had a dramatic effect on Arizona's economy? Common sense would dictate that, if it were illegal to reside on Arizona soil without immigration papers, and there are currently over 500,000 illegal immigrants in the state, its population would drop dramatically. However; the populations of Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson have all risen between 1.1% and 1.6% from 2011 and 2012, a figure...
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