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Even in Arizona? The Costs & Consequences of Anti-Immigrant Policies Lead to Defeat of Measures

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Even in Arizona? The Costs & Consequences of Anti-Immigrant Policies Lead to Defeat of Measures Proposed by Backer of Arizona’s Infamous “Papers Please” Law

Washington – The news out of Arizona is that its Republican-dominated state Senate rejected the latest series of harsh immigration measures.  For once, the Arizona GOP said no to their leader, State Sen. Russell Pearce, who wanted to enact a package that has been called SB 1070 on steroids.  How come?  Some Republicans are beginning to understand and fear the consequences of harsh enforcement-only policy approaches as CEOs, tourism officials, and economists begin to raise their voices in opposition.  It now is becoming clear that old divisions are reappearing.  Republicans are increasingly split between pro-business pragmatists and mass-deportation zealots on the issue.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The GOP’s lurch to the right on immigration has masked the enduring divisions between out-of-control hawks and up-until-recently-silent pragmatists in the Republican Party.  On the heels of the flawed yet groundbreaking attempt in Utah to forge a different path from enforcement-only laws, the support in Arizona from the state’s business community to put the brakes on another spate of enforcement bills represents a significant development.  They are beginning to realize that unless the step up and speak out, the hawks will continue to enact radical measures that are economically and politically costly.”

The rejection of the latest enforcement-only approaches reflects the growing wariness of business community, who cited the “unintended consequences” of continued state-based crackdowns.  In Arizona’s debate, “dozens of CEOs of major employers and business groups signed a letter distributed Wednesday by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, saying that passage of additional legislation on illegal immigration would damage the economy and tourism.  Arizona should instead push for federal action on immigration and border issues, according to the letter signed by heads of construction companies, hospitals, real estate developers and US Airways.”

In addition to the growing business wariness over enforcement-only approaches, Republican politicos are increasingly coming to terms with the political consequences of solely pushing enforcement policies.  As Census data show that Latino voters are increasingly driving population growth both in traditional gateway states and throughout the nation, polling underscores that Latino voters are cementing their anti-Republican sentiments, due mostly to GOP identification with enforcement-only immigration policies.  For example, a new poll of California Latino voters conducted by Republican consultants involved in Carly Fiorina’s 2010 Senate campaign found that only 26% of respondents had a favorable opinion of the Republican Party (compared to 62% favorability for Democrats).  The reason, according to the pollsters, is that immigration is “the elephant in the GOP living room,” with only 21% of respondents trusting the Republican approach on immigration issues (compared to 57% trust for Democrats).

Said Sharry, “In Utah and Arizona, it seems that enough adults got involved to stop the GOP from more self-destructive measures.  Too bad there are no Republican voices in Congress who seem prepared to do the same.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.