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Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona heads to Alabama today to be the keynote speaker at the Alabama Federation of Republican Women dinner in Huntsville and, presumably, to reiterate her recent support for Alabama and Arizona’s anti-immigration laws.
According to the Arizona Republic, Governor Brewer has an upcoming memoir about her experiences passing Arizona’s anti-immigration law and asserts in the book that, “Arizona’s crisis is coming to the rest of America. In fact, it’s already here.” We agree – like Arizona, Alabama already is experiencing devastating consequences for its reputation and economy. Unlike Arizona, key provisions of the Alabama law have actually gone into effect.
Unlike the loud and proud Arizona governor, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) recently noted that he has been avoiding most interview requests on the subject of Alabama’s “papers, please” anti-immigration law, because he does not want to “add fuel to the fire across the country where people continue to look at Alabama in a negative light.”
Too late for that.
However, unlike Jan Brewer, who readily serves as the chief spokesperson for anti-immigration crackdowns at the state level, Bentley has no intention of being the face of HB 56, the Alabama anti-immigration law.
And who would? With HB 56 causing a humanitarian and civil rights crisis in the state, we wouldn’t want to be its champion and defender either. But Governor Bentley is the person who signed the HB 56 bill into law, and responsibility for it does at least partially rest on him.
With Alabama’s law surpassing Arizona’s in cruelty, and many of its provisions now in effect, Governor Bentley and Governor Brewer have a lot in common. This week, Governor Brewer will visit Alabama and see firsthand what her vision for immigration control looks like in action. Here’s a hint: with children afraid to go to school, agencies denying water to families, and crime victims afraid to call the police, it’s not pretty.
After Arizona’s reputation took a major hit on the national and international stage last year, a July 2011 report from the Center for American Progress on the economic impact of Arizona’s immigration law found that:
Losses have already totaled at least $141 million, including $45 million in hotel and lodging cancellations, and $96 million in lost commercial revenue. Fewer tourists has meant that an incredible 2,761 jobs, $253 million in economic output, and $9.4 million in tax revenues have disappeared, with the potential for far worse results in the future…Eliminating all of the undocumented immigrants in Arizona would not occur within a vacuum but would instead destroy an important piece of Arizona’s overall economic pie. Undocumented immigrants make up roughly 7 percent of the state’s population, and eliminating them would evaporate 581,000 jobs—not just for immigrants but also for native-born workers who are employed in sectors dependent on immigrant labor. This mass attrition would reduce the state’s tax revenues by 10.1 percent, both in terms of revenue lost from fewer people in the workforce, as well as fewer people in the state paying income, employment, and consumption taxes, such as sales tax.
As the Gadsden Times (AL) editorialized:
[Governor Bentley] says he pushed for the immigration bill because of inaction by the federal government on the issue, but it’s hard not to wonder if one of the unintended consequences we read so much about will be a blow to the state’s recruitment of international businesses. Alabama has had a great record of attracting major industries from around the world, but some companies likely will look elsewhere because they don’t want any negative connotation attached to their image because they located here.
Similarly, a Birmingham News editorial stated:
Bentley now may not want to be ‘the face of illegal immigration bills in the country,’ but as governor of Alabama, he is. He can’t hide from a law that once again damages Alabama’s reputation across the country.
Will Governor Brewer recap for her audience the economic damage that her state has incurred as a result of its short-sighted and inhumane legislation? Now, Alabama has followed, and surpassed, the Arizona model of anti-immigrant legislation. From ruining the state’s agriculture sector to damaging tourism, Alabama is well on its way to experiencing its own version of the profound negative consequences of a self-inflicted immigration wound.
For more on the Alabama immigration law, check out:
Report on Economic Damage Incurred by Arizona Due to its Immigration Law (Center for American Progress)
Ten Things to Know About Alabama’s New Immigration Law (America’s Voice Education Fund)
Round-up of Editorial and Op-Ed Criticism of Alabama’s Immigration Law (America’s Voice Education Fund)