Cost of Arizona Anti-Immigration Law in Money and Hate

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The debate over immigration has been pushed into the national conversation since the Arizona state legislature passed Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, otherwise known as SB1070. Since Arizona Governor, Republican Jan Brewer, signed SB1070 into law there have been seven separate lawsuits filed against the law, including a lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice. In federal court last week Judge Susan Bolton heard arguments from both sides of Salgado v. Brewer, and this week Judge Bolton will hear arguments in the case brought by the Justice Department. These lawsuits argue that the law is unconstitutional on different grounds including that it violates civil liberty, that it causes racial profiling and that it is an unlawful regulation of federal immigration law.

This law has come at a significant price to Arizona. While the state is facing a budget deficit of more than $4.5 billion dollars, the law is going to cost the state millions of dollars. In addition to the $10 million in initial cost of implementing the law, county and municipal law enforcement agencies will be forced to spend millions of dollars enforcing the law. According to the Immigration Policy Center law-enforcement agencies in Yuma County alone will have to spend between $775,880 and $1,163,820 in processing expenses; jail costs would be between $21,195,600 and $96,086,720; attorney and staff fees would be $810,067-$1,620,134; and additional detention facilities would have to be built at unknown costs. Arizona will also be affected by Latino and immigrant populations that may migrate to states with less hostile environments towards these populations. According to a 2008 study by the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona, the Latino and immigrant generated $10.2 billion in state economic output, and generated tax revenues of roughly $776 million.

More Below the Fold…While the arguments in the courts begin, Governor Brewer began soliciting donations for the legal cost of defending the law in court. To date the legal defense fund Keep Arizona Safe has collected approximately $1.2 million in donations from over 24,000 individuals from almost every state. However, the legal defense fund has attracted controversial supporters. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the white supremacist political party American Third Position announced “a triple-digit donation to Arizona's Border Security and Immigration Legal Defense Fund.” Also, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that largest and oldest white nationalist forum on the internet, Stormfront.org, is promoting the legal defense fund. Anti-immigrant sentiment among racist and white supremacist organizations is not surprising, however, it is surprising that a lawyer at the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) also wrote the law.

It is in the midst of this backdrop that something potentially dangerous is occurring in the Arizona desert. First reported by New America Media, and then reported by the New York Times; armed groups with neo-Nazi affiliations have started patrolling remote areas of the Arizona desert in search of undocumented immigrants. The group identifies with the National Socialist Movement (a neo-Nazi organization). The leader of the group is Jason Ready, who has a history of violence and racist rhetoric towards Latinos and undocumented immigrations documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2006, Ready ran for City Council in Mesa and was endorsed by Arizona State Representative, Republican Russell Pearce, who is among Arizona's most anti-immigrant lawmakers.

During a summer when undocumented immigrant deaths crossing the border are on a record pace, the stage is being set so that the heat will not be the only thing in the desert that endangers undocumented immigrants lives. Accord to a report by KPHO Channel 5 out of Phoenix, there has already been an increase the numbers of white supremacist and racist organizations such as neo-Nazi groups in Arizona. While the new anti-immigrant law in Arizona could cost the state millions of dollars, there could be a higher cost in the lives of undocumented immigrants.

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