Arizona’s SB 1070 has yet to take effect, but it’s already causing an exodus of immigrant families from the state. Predictably, this is hurting the state's economy. As The Arizona Republic reports, many small businesses have seen a precipitous drop in their customer base, and apartment owners are struggling to find new renters for rooms where undocumented immigrants used to live. Despite all the rhetoric about immigrants being a drain on jobs and social services, they're consumers, too; as research has repeatedly shown, immigrants (regardless of their documentation) contribute to economic growth far and above what they take in social services.
Unfortunately, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and her supporters are unlikely to admit that the law is damaging the economy – or acknowledge that undocumented workers are an important source for growth. Instead, they will most likely blame the liberals for boycotting the state. Armed with a fundamentally warped view of economics, they will insist that the departure of thousands of people from the state actually helps the economy.
But businesses that are directly affected by the exodus know better. This is why, as Andrea Nill notes, it might seem strange for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce to have endorsed Brewer. Or for the organization to have kept quiet on SB 1070 even as it sues the state over a law that requires employers to verify immigration status. Maybe it shouldn't be surprising. In Arizona, nativism has trumped self-interest: The Chamber of Commerce is just another example of this.
-- Nicolas Mendoza
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