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HB 56 Anti-Immigrant Law Could Cost Alabama $11 Billion, Says Report

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sam addyHow much time is HB 56 sponsor Scott Beason going to waste insisting that Alabama’s anti-immigrant law is good for the state?

Despite his claim that HB 56 “is a jobs bill” that would free up hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans once immigrants self-deport, there’s been no evidence that the immigration law has contributed to the state’s lowered unemployment rate, and no job growth in immigrant-heavy sectors like agriculture and construction.

Now, a new analysis by an economist from the University of Alabama states that HB 56 could ultimately cost Alabama as much as $11 billion in economic output, as much as $264.5 million in tax revenue, and as many as 70,000 to 140,000 jobs.

According to the report’s author, economist Dr. Sam Addy, HB 56 has caused a mass departure of immigrants from the state (“40,000 to 80,000 workers earning $15,000 to $35,000 a year”), which in turn has caused a major dip in consumer demand.

“As a result of this exodus, aggregate demand has been reduced, a negative shock that puts the state’s economy on a lower growth path than would have been the case without the law,” the study reads.

Among the study’s findings:

  • This decrease in demand for goods and services will shrink Alabama’s economy by 1-6% of the state’s GDP, or somewhere between $2.3 billion and $10.8 billion.

  • The immigrant exodus will also cost the state between $57 million and $265 million in state taxes, with an addition $20 million to $90 million loss in local taxes.  This is a staggering cost to the state budget even without considering the costs of enforcing the law and defending it in court all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will cause the cost to balloon even more.

  • Finally, the linchpin of the law—the idea that self-deported immigrant will leave jobs behind for Americans, does not appear to be bearing out.  As the report says, “It is also argued that illegal immigrants take jobs that should have gone to citizens and other legal residents. If that were true, farmers and businesses that employed these workers and other business interests as well should not have complained about the law especially given the state’s high unemployment rate.  There was very little worker substitution and most of the few that considered the jobs previously performed by unauthorized immigrant workers did not have the requisite skills and productivity.” 

In other words, immigrants provide a service to the economy to the economy that can’t easily be replaced.  And no, “self-deportation” does not lead to more American jobs.