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RELEASE: The Fiscal Impact of States’ Anti-Immigration Legislation

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

Download this brief (pdf)

Washington, D.C. — Just more than a year since the passage of Arizona’s ill-fated anti-immigrant law S.B. 1070, the Center for American Progress released the brief “Your State Can’t Afford It: The Fiscal Impact of States’ Anti-Immigration Legislation” by Angela M. Kelley and Philip E. Wolgin, examining the fiscal impact to states from the passage of anti-immigrant legislation.

In the wake of S.B. 1070’s passage, many other states have offered copycat bills during the 2011 legislative session but, as many of these legislative sessions begin to conclude for the year, only a handful (Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and South Carolina) actually passed, while 26 others were rejected and Arizona resisted a series of even harsher bills proposed this year. One of the principal reasons for the failure of so many of these legislative efforts was cost, as these types of bills have been found to be expensive to implement at many levels and place a heavy burden on state and local governments already feeling the effects of a down economy.

This brief focuses on three the three main costs of anti-immigrant legislation, in particular:

  • The economic damage stemming from a state being perceived as hostile, including lost tourist revenue and individuals choosing to live elsewhere rather than remain in an unwelcoming environment
  • The burden of implementing these laws, each of which requires significant resources to be deployed by state and local governments to turn local police into immigration officers and force small businesses into costly immigration enforcement
  • The expense of the legal fees associated with defending anti-immigrant legislation from the raft of ensuing lawsuits

These costs are crippling for states and their citizens—so much so that dozens of states have decided against pursuing an anti-immigrant agenda. The brief examines these costs in detail and then details the only reasonable alternative: comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. Economic gains accrue by bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows and making them equal partners in economic growth.

Download this brief (pdf)

To speak with Angela M. Kelley or Philip E. Wolgin, please contact Raúl Arce-Contreras at rarcecontreras@americanprogress.org or 202.478.5318.

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