Arizona Immigration Law in Georgia — We Can’t Afford It!!
Arizona recently passed Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070) which would, among other things, allow local police officers to detain anyone — even legal citizens and residents – they suspect are “illegal.” It also allows citizens to sue a police officer or agency if they believe they’re not enforcing immigration to the full extent of the law. Although a federal judge has blocked major provisions of SB 1070 because it violates the US Constitution, the Georgia State Legislature has filed a similar Arizona-style law in our state (House Bill 87).
We can’t afford the economic loss. Arizona has so far lost $140 million as a result of SB 1070, and that loss is expected to reach a total of $750 million based on an independent study by the Center for American Progress. Given our bad economy, we can’t afford laws that will make things worse.
We can’t afford the loss in tourism, Georgia’s 2nd largest industry. Arizona has lost $45 million in convention revenues in just the past few months alone. Georgia is a magnet for conventions and tourism. In 2008, only one of several convention centers in Georgia — the Georgia World Congress Center — produced $2.6 billion in output, the majority of the money coming from visitor spending (UGA Selig Center Report). A loss of convention dollars would not only hurt the convention centers, but have a negative ripple effect on the surrounding local businesses and cut thousands of jobs for hard-working Georgians.
We can’t afford the bad publicity. Since passage of SB 1070, Arizona has received a ton of bad publicity both nationally and internationally and suffered from boycotts as a result of this law. Georgia actively cultivates foreign economic development, touting our state as diverse, cultured, and business-friendly. A similar law in Georgia could potentially lead foreign businesses to invest in other states that are less controversial and more hospitable.
We can’t afford the potential loss in public safety. The national Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, and multiple local law enforcement leaders throughout the nation have spoken out against SB 1070 because of the negative effect it would have on their primary duty of public safety, the strain on limited resources, and the unfair exposure to lawsuits. We want to fully support our law enforcement officers’ ability to build and establish trust with the community, and focus their limited resources on fighting crime versus immigration enforcement, which is the duty and role of the federal government.
We can’t afford to use more taxpayer dollars for enforcement. The US Government is principally entrusted to enforce immigration, and we already pay for that through taxes. Passage of additional state immigration laws would have to be supported by a state budget for enforcement – police training, proper car equipment, and coverage for lawsuits. We can’t afford to make further cuts to our children’s education, our police force, or our businesses to fund state enforcement measures that are paid for at the federal level.
We can’t afford unconstitutional racial profiling in our state. Provisions of the Arizona law have already been enjoined by a federal judge for being unconstitutional. You cannot tell if a person is a U.S. citizen by the color of their skin, or their accent. Georgia has one of the fastest growing Asian American populations of any state in the US. Immigrants are an integral part of Georgia and we must welcome and love them as our neighbors. We are bound by our long history of social justice to adopt a humane approach to immigration.
AALAC’s Fact Sheet on an Arizona-Style law is available in multiple languages: