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PRESS RELEASE: Arizona’s Immigration Law and the Cost of Cancelled Conferences and Conventions

Report quantifies significant losses in spending, jobs, and tax revenue

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Contact: Madeline Meth
Phone: 202.741.6277
Email: mmeth@americanprogress.org

Download the report here.

Listen to today’s press call here. (mp3)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The lucrative convention and conference business is the backbone of Arizona’s tourism industry and it has been significantly hurt by the state’s enactment in April of harsh anti-immigration legislation. The industry’s losses will cost the state $253 million in economic output and more than $86 million in lost wages over the next two to three years, according to a report commissioned by the Center for American Progress.

The study, conducted by Arizona-based Elliott D. Pollack & Company, found that the losses from meetings that were cancelled following approval of the immigration control law S.B. 1070 total $141 million in direct spending by convention attendees. Further, the economic hit from cancelled meetings that would have occurred over the next two to three years—$253 million in economic output—affects 2,800 jobs that would have been supported by that activity.

Arizona’s anti-immigration policies have come at a time when the state’s economy can least afford it. Other high tourism states—Florida, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, to name a few—should heed this report’s warnings before jumping on Arizona’s derailed economic train.

“Citizens in other states must remain on high alert as politicians begin to talk about moving Arizona-like measures, especially in these fragile economic times,” said Angela M. Kelley, CAP’s Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy. “Clearly, the numbers show the economic train wreck that happens under this anti-immigrant strategy waged by politicians who pander to hyperbolic fears of immigrants. Taxpayers are the ones who will have to dig deeper in their pockets to make up for local budget shortfalls created by empty convention spaces,” Kelley added.

Arizona’s enactment of S.B. 1070 during a sluggish economic period also damaged the state’s high-dollar commerce with Mexico, said Lea Marquez-Peterson, president and CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, during a telephonic news media conference. “We’re hurting in Arizona. It’s been very tough,” she said of the impact on the business sector, adding, “The law has certainly impacted everybody, not just Hispanics or Latinos.”

Also speaking to reporters was the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Florida, where state lawmakers are considering Arizona copycat laws.

“Anyone who thinks an Arizona-type of law would not hurt Florida—a state that is home to theme parks, beaches, and sports complexes—is living in their own little Fantasyland; in their own little world,” said Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“This loss in economic activity (in Arizona) is also expected to be spread over multiple years,” emphasized Danny Court, a senior economic analyst at Elliott D. Pollack & Co.

The Pollack company’s economic analysis, compiled by Kelley and Marshall Fitz, CAP’s Director of Immigration Policy, notes that cancelled convention bookings represent only one part of Arizona’s economic losses as a result of the draconian immigration legislation.

The study did not take into account unrelated leisure travel cancellations, losses from damaged international relations with Mexico, and decisions by members of the entertainment industry to stay out of Arizona. Nor did it quantify the consequences of workers and families that have reportedly left the state or the costs of litigation to defend a law that has been preliminarily ruled as unconstitutional.

As the study states, “even the narrow and targeted scope of this report shows that Arizona is facing severe economic and fiscal consequences. This report provides a clear window into the potentially catastrophic impacts of pursuing harsh, state-based immigration policies and should give other state legislatures pause before pursuing such measures.”

Download the report here.

Listen to today’s press call here.

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