By Mario Trujillo
Nearly a year after Arizona passed its controversial immigration law, 31 states have proposed similar legislation, 19 have voted it down and only one has enacted a law.
Janet Murguia, the President and CEO of the National Concil of La Raza, said the law has lost traction in other states due to severe tourism and convention revenue losses that come from controversial immigration legislation. Her organization released a report this week that estimates $750 million in revenue has been lost in Arizona since the law was adopted nearly a year ago. Those figures come from a study conducted by the liberal leaning Center For American Progress.
“The costs of political gambits and false solutions, such as SB 1070 [the Arizona law], are too high, especially in times of economic crisis,” Murguia said.
Utah is the only other state to enact similar legislation — Georgia passed legislation that is awaiting the Governor’s signature — that permits local law enforcement to check immigration papers of those suspected of crimes.
Utah’s law is described as a subdued version of the Arizona Law. It would only require review of immigration documents for people who commit severe misdemeanors and felonies, which is still a stretch, said Salt Lake City Chief of Police Chris Burbank.
“Putting local law enforcement in a position of acting as an immigration agent drives a wedge between the community,” Burbank said.
The Department of Justice intervened in the Arizona law, preventing it from taking effect. Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower courts decision that the law overstepped its bounds in an area that is regulated by the federal government. No action has been taken in Utah’s law, which wouldn’t take effect until 2013.
Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center Marielena Hincapie said the same arguments against the Arizona Law apply to Utah and her organization is looking into litigation.
“We don’t know where the Administration is at,” Hincapie said. “But we do believe that, as they did in Arizona, they should also be filing suite in Utah and if Georgia becomes law.”