SB1070 was sold as a way to “do the job the federal government refused to do.” Presumably, that meant “secure the border,” a catchall phrase by Republicans that has yet to be defined as anything other than “the opposite of what Obama does.”
But SB1070 doesn’t secure the border, nor does it offer any real solution to the problem of illegal immigration.
Instead, 1070 has driven out thousands of residents, both documented and undocumented, who feel unwelcome in a state that seems more and more hostile to Latinos. SB1070, along with a slue of additional far-reaching anti-women’s health bills, has tarnished Arizona’s image and given us headlines perfect for the taunts of late-night comedians like John Stewart.
I’m not sure how Arizona’s legislators can view this as positive, but then again, there’s little our state lawmakers do these days that I understand. From banning contraception to defunding education, legislators seem more interested in taking away individual liberties than in creating jobs or fixing a broken tax system.
This isn’t good news for Arizona businesses. But with the exception of last year’s letter asking legislators to cool it on the immigration bills, most businesses have said little about the negative impact of SB1070 or of the other controversial and image-damaging bills coming out of the legislature. But this week several hundred businesses spoke up, saying SB1070 is bad for Arizona’s businesses and bad for Arizona’s economy.
The amicus curiae or “Friend of the Court” brief put together by Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform and several other groups argues that 1070 violates the Dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and interferes with interstate and foreign commerce. Essentially, they’re saying the law has driven away immigrants and other residents, diminishing the labor pool and creating higher costs for the price of goods and services. It has also imposed higher costs on out of state businesses with operations in Arizona.
But the brief goes further by stating that the supposed benefits to Arizona are “illusory and do not outweigh its burdens.” SB1070 was sold as a way to reduce the costs of illegal immigration by reducing the costs for incarceration and education, but data has shown that the end result has not been a net gain for Arizona but rather a net loss.
All Arizonans pay the price for bad legislative policies, whether it’s immediate or long-term. The focus on immigration policies, specifically bad immigration policies such as SB1070, continue to draw resources away from programs that fix problems and into programs that create additional problems.
For instance, an editorialist from the East Valley Tribune recently wrote about the sweeping of funds from DPS, funds taken from gang enforcement and moved into immigration enforcement. This has resulted in an increase in violent, gang-related organized crime that will no doubt continue to rise as the legislature moves another $2 million out of anti-gang funds and into funds for an armed state militia.
Will a volunteer state militia do more to keep citizens safe than a highly trained specialty squad? I sincerely doubt it.
Most of our business leaders can see right through these types of policies, but until more of them have the courage to stand up and speak out, bad policies will continue to be the norm. Here’s hoping the actions of a few will give courage to the masses.