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New Resource from Immigration Policy Center Shows the Sky-High Price of SB 1070-like Laws

by Mahwish Khan on 01/12/2011 at 6:09pm

The Immigration Policy Center has released a comprehensive new guide to responding to the controversial Arizona-style immigration laws already popping up in states like Florida and Texas.  

Of particular interest are the financial toll these laws will take. From the report:

Q:  What will it cost states to implement an Arizona-type law?

A:  Implementation of SB1070-like laws will be very expensive at a time when all states are already struggling financially.  Based on Arizona’s experience, we can begin to estimate the costs to the states.

A 2006 fact sheet produced by Yuma County Sheriff Ralph E. Ogden estimates the costs of a similar bill which would have allowed the police to arrest undocumented immigrants simply for being present in the state on trespassing charges. The fact sheet shows the cost to Yuma County law enforcement agencies “from the moment of arrest to the point of conviction, sentencing, and incarceration.” The Sheriff estimated the following:

  • Law-enforcement agencies would spend between $775,880 and $1,163,820 in processing expenses;

  • Jail costs would be between $21,195,600 and $96,086,720;

  • Attorney and staff fees would be $810,067-$1,620,134;

  • Additional detention facilities would have to be built at unknown costs.

  • In addition, the Superior Court, Justice Courts, Juvenile Courts, and Municipal Courts would also realize increased costs for additional court staff, interpreters, administrative staff, and pre-trial services.

  • Multiplying this among all 15 counties means the costs of implementing SB1070 could rise into the hundreds of millions of dollars for the state.

There are also additional hidden costs that the states would incur. Remember how, in the aftermath of SB 1070, a number of organizations pulled their investments from Arizona and small business owners in the State suffered because there was a major call to boycott the State?  Just like Arizona, other states could experience a major blow to tourism and conventions:

A report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) estimates that Arizona will lose $45 million in lodging revenue.  When losses to food and beverage, entertainment, in-town transportation, and retail sales are included, the estimated combined loss of conference attendee spending is up to $141 million…A study released in July 2007 by the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy concluded that economic output would drop annually by at least $29 billion, or 8.2 percent, if all non-citizens, which include undocumented workers, were removed from Arizona’s workforce.  About 14 percent of the state’s 2.6 million workers are foreign-born, and about two-thirds to three-fourths of non-citizens are undocumented.

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