From Think Progress -Progress Report – thinkprogress.com
Approximately one year ago, on April 23, 2010, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed SB-1070 into law. The bill required local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, allowed U.S. citizens to sue those police officers they believe aren’t doing so, and prohibited anyone from knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant for any reason, among other things. The major provisions of SB-1070 have been enjoined by the courts. “By imposing mandatory obligations on state and local officers, Arizona interferes with the federal government’s authority to implement its priorities and strategies in law enforcement, turning Arizona officers into state-directed DHS agents,” asserted the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court agreed with federal district court judge Susan Bolton who reasoned that the “United States is likely to suffer irreparable harm” in the absence of an injunction. Yet, even though most of the law has not gone into effect, the economic, political, and social consequences of SB-1070′s passage have been profound.
ARIZONA TODAY: On the anniversary of the day that SB-1070 was signed into law, hundreds of people gathered in Phoenix to march in protest against the law. There were plenty of good reasons to do so. It has already been affirmed that SB-1070 is likely unconstitutional by two separate courts. The stated purpose of the law is attrition through enforcement — a policy that aims to make life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they leave. Although the courts blocked most of SB-1070, its chill factor remained. The East Valley Tribune confirms “people have left.” School enrollment was down last fall. Many businesses that cater to the Latino population are empty. If Arizona was to actually succeed in driving out its undocumented population, it could eliminate 581,000 jobs for immigrant and native-born workers alike, shrink the state economy by $48.8 billion, and reduce state tax revenues by 10.1 percent. The boycott against Arizona that SB-1070 inspired cost the state’s convention industry at least 4,236 jobs and $217 million and has cost $1.5 million in legal fees to defend. Despite all of these costs, Brewer and the bill’s sponsor — Senate President Russell Pearce (R) — maintain that SB-1070 has been a wild success. “I’ve talked to a U-Haul dealer,” Pearce stated. “He said business has never been better.” SB-1070 has also been great for their political careers. Brewer went from lagging in the polls in April 2010 to winning by a landslide in November. Pearce transformed himself from an embarrassing sideshow to a conservative rock star. In February, Brewer announced that she is filing a countersuit against the federal government on behalf of the state of Arizona. The countersuit names several counts, including a “failure to protect Arizona from invasion.”
COPYCATS: At the beginning of the year, 22 states were considering immigration laws similar to the one passed by Arizona. In spite of SB-1070′s recent judicial setbacks, several states are still pressing on. The Alabama House and Senate have been reconciling bills that would give state and local police broad authority to check immigration status and are reportedly the “closest” it has ever been to passing an Arizona-style law. In April, the Georgia legislature became the first to pass a SB-1070 copycat law. It is currently sitting on Gov. Nathan Deal’s (R-GA) desk, awaiting a possible signature. Last Wednesday, in a 37-8 vote, the Oklahoma state Senate approved an Arizona copycat bill that has already been passed by the House. In Florida, an estimated 600 demonstrators took to the streets last week to protest a set of immigration bill’s which largely mirror Arizona’s. Florida’s copycat bill has been dying a slow death in the state legislature. An amendment that would have put in place a mandatory electronic employment verification system (E-Verify) was voted down yesterday and lawmakers now seem reluctant to approve the current bill before the legislative session ends on Friday. Meanwhile, the majority of the states considering copycat laws backed off long ago. For example, Kentucky’s bill was voted down in March with legislators citing the budgetary issues related to the enormous cost to enforce the bill. A few weeks earlier, a fiscal-impact statement on the bill predicted that it would cost Kentucky $40 million a year in court, prison and foster-care costs.
UTAH’S APPROACH: “Last summer, it was a foregone conclusion that Utah was going to do exactly what Arizona had done,” stated a spokesman for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Yet in March 2011, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed off on a bundle of four immigration bills which include proposals that were specifically introduced as proactive alternatives to Arizona’s harsh immigration law. One of the measures would allow undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to carry a state-issued guest worker permit. A separate bill would create a migrant worker partnership with Mexico. Another piece of approved legislation will allow Utahans to sponsor migrants wanting to work or study in the state. Herbert also signed into law a bill that has been described as a “watered down” version of SB-1070. “We’re not Arizona,” asserted Utah’s Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R). “Our police don’t want to be ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents.” Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX) — who happens to be one of the nation’s most anti-immigrant lawmakers — promptly demanded the Department of Justice (DOJ) sue Utah. Yesterday, DOJ Secretary Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee that his department will not pursue a case against Utah this year because the law itself is not set to go into effect for another two years and “by 2013 we might be in a different place.” Meanwhile, Utah’s leaders delivered their own advice. Shurtleff stated, “It is your [Smith's] responsibility to do comprehensive immigration reform. What are you doing? Instead of wagging your finger at Utah when we’re actually trying to do something here.” Herbert agreed. “Typical Washington-attempt to deflect criticism that comes from Washington’s abject failure to address immigration, then sue a state over something that won’t even take effect for two years, rather than use those two years to do something positive,” he said