by Bob Price (original blog re-posted with permission. Bob Price is the Texas leader of Cafe Con Leche Republicans)
As you are reading this post, the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration Refugees and Border Security is meeting to debate Arizona’s 1070 law. This law is also being heard this week by the US Supreme Court as it is being challenged by Obama’s Department of Justice.
While one can debate the merits of the 1070 law and even its constitutionality, it is an interesting exercise in the status of the 10th Amendment and state’s rights in general. There is ample evidence that 1070 has caused economic damage Arizona and to other states that have enacted similar legislation. At the same time, other states like Texas and Utah, have stayed away from these types of legislation and have avoided the economic collateral damage these types of laws have created.
Many are saying this hearing is of little or no value. But for others it is an opportunity to bring forward a debate and discussion that needs to happen in our county. When are we going to get serious about border security and meaningful immigration reform?
In an article by Erin Kelly of the Republic Washington Bureau, Louis DeSipio, a professor of Chicano/Latino-studies at University of California-Irvine said, “It’s political theater… That doesn’t mean the debate won’t be valuable, but I doubt it will lead to any action on immigration reform in an election year.”
Responding to a question from TexasGOPVote, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “This is not an attempt at having a sincere hearing on the merits. Unfortunately, the Democrat majority seems to have embraced President Obama’s ‘mañana’ approach to immigration reform.”
Unfortunately, this is what the federal government keeps doing on immigration reform and border security. This leaves those who support open borders and the abuse of workers who are not protected under our current system of chaos, with a de-facto victory of sorts. The longer we ignore this issue, the longer there is a virtual amnesty and continued illegal migration.
Sen. Cornyn went on to say, “This hearing does nothing to advance immigration reform in Congress or otherwise fix our broken system. It is no more than election-year theater. The Supreme Court will decide the fate of Arizona’s SB1070 on constitutional grounds. Yet none of the majority’s witnesses is an expert on the complex questions the Court will consider.”
The hearing was apparently only attended by Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.
Also testifying today is Mr. Todd Landfried, Executive Director of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform. Following is a copy of his testimony, obtained in advance of the hearing. He begins with a quote from Dr. Douglas Massey, Co-director of the Mexican Migration Project, “A salient characteristic of the current debate on U.S. immigration policy is the high ration of hot air to data.”
(For entire testimony document including footnotes and charts, CLICK HERE)
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee for inviting me to speak today.
For the record, my name is Todd Landfried, and I am the Executive Director of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform (AZEIR). AZEIR is a 501(c)(4) organization with approximately 350 small, medium and large member businesses who want to see sensible immigration reform passed at the federal level. It was formed in response to the introduction of Arizona’s Employer Sanctions law and has been active in the state ever since. We were the only business organization actively opposing SB1070 in 2010 and have been a persistent voice for reasoned solutions to the immigration problem. We have filed an amicus brief opposing SB1070 to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear the case tomorrow.
I’m going to focus my remarks not on whether there is problem with our country’s immigration laws (there is), or whether states have any inherent authority to inject themselves into federal immigration enforcement (they don’t), or whether we support SB1070 (we don’t). Rather, I’ll focus on whether laws like Arizona’s SB1070, Georgia’s HB87 or Alabama’s HB56 and others are good public policy and something that should be copied in other states or as a federal solution.
By “good public policy,” I mean what are the outcomes? What are the results of these laws? Do they have the intended consequences? Do they secure the border? Do they open up jobs and reduce state expenses? Do they fulfill any of the numerous promises their proponents make?
It’s a legitimate question that more and more people are starting to ask, because they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results and at a time when government programs fall under increased scrutiny, it’s only fair that state-level laws are examined using the same microscope.
The members of this committee may not be aware of it, but the “SB1070″ approach has been tried before.
2006 – Farmer’s Branch, TX
2006 – Hazelton, PA
2007 – Oklahoma HB1804
2008 – Prince William County, VA
2010 – Arizona SB1070
2011 – Georgia HB87
2011 – Alabama HB56
2011 – South Carolina Act 69
2011 – Indiana SB590
So, this idea of “attrition through enforcement” has been tried before at each and every level of government: local, county and state. At each of these levels, the same groups have been behind it: the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and their Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). At each of these levels, the only research used to justify the action came from FAIR, FAIR-sponsored, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) or Numbers USA. To my knowledge, at no time has any other group approached any governmental jurisdiction with the same issue. None. Most importantly, at every level of government where this strategy has been tried, it has failed. Let me repeat that statement: at every level of government where this strategy has been tried, it has failed.
Failed as in doesn’t work. Failed as in causes more harm than good. Failed as in killed jobs, businesses, markets, trade relationships, real estate markets, tourism, stifled cooperation with law enforcement, damaged reputations and the ability to attract high-skill workers to the state.
For any serious practitioner of public policy, this should raise a red flag and I’m happy to say it has. You heard earlier that SB1070 is wildly popular and that 35-odd states have introduced versions of it. But as elected officials, each of you knows there is a huge difference between a bill that is introduced and one that becomes law. Let’s look at SB1070′s record in state legislatures.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 30 states introduced SB1070 copycat bills in 2011.i Not 34 or 35, 30. Of those 30 states, direct copycat legislation was passed in four. Now I’m not a lawyer or a politician, but simple math tells me that four in 30 are not good results. Put another way, nearly 87% of the states -rejected-Arizona’s approach. In the business community, an 87% failure rate is hardly indicative of success and any product with an 87% failure rate won’t be on the market very long.
In fact, if you look at all 1,592 all immigration bills introduced in 2011, only 162 passed, which is a 90% failure rate. So what caused 87% of the states to reject SB1070 copycat and 90% of all immigration bills? They failed because legislatures were shown the simple fact that these bills never work as planned. Here are just a few examples and data points. There are many more.
Oklahoma Taxpayer & Citizen Protection Act
After Oklahoma passed HB1804 in 2007, the Oklahoma Bankers Association commissioned a study that found the loss of 90,000 unauthorized workers and their families resulted in a $1.9B loss to the state’s Gross State Product.ii
A study by the Urban Institute and the Migration Policy Institute found negligible impact on savings on public services from departure of the undocumented because by law they’re ineligible for those benefits anyway.iii
Georgia – HB 87
According to a Georgia Restaurant Association survey in November 2011, 71% their members were experiencing labor shortages and 88% were concerned they would experience labor shortages in the future. They estimate the average monthly sales loss due to the labor shortage was $21,000.iv
Georgia farmers told Governor Deal in a Georgia Department of Agriculture survey they needed 11,080 workers to bring in that spring’s spring fruit crop or they faced the loss of $330M due to the labor shortage.vvi Governor Deal offered up probationers as a solution and on the first day, 11 showed up. That’s .001 percent of the number needed. According to news reports, two remained a week later. The resulting losses to farmers were significant, with one small grower losing $250,000 due to the labor shortage and an estimated total state loss of $391M.vii
One aspect of using probationers or prison labor is the increased liability insurance costs to adequately protect business owners from any problems caused by these workers. This is an additional unintended consequence of such suggested solutions and programs.
Fourteen days after the bill was signed into law and after the complaints started rolling in, Governor Deal asks for an economic impact study. Shouldn’t that have been done -before-the bill was passed?viii
Alabama HB 56
1. An analysis by the University of Alabamaix cites a number of troubling impacts to their economy. Each one was easily predictable if they would have examined what happened in other states
a. Reduction of 70,000 – 140,000 related jobs, causing a loss of up to %5.8B in earnings
b. $2.3 M- $10B loss in state GDP
c. $56.7M- $264.5M loss in state income and sales tax collections
d. $20M – $93.1M in lost local sales tax collections
2. Business and dog owners have been caught up in Alabama’s law by being required to prove their U.S. citizenship to renew their business license or to register their dog. Mobile County reportedly spent over $150,000 just on equipment to enforce the citizenship provisions of HB56. The county even gave back $30,000 in fines collected because business owners needed more time to prove their citizenship before their licenses were renewed.x
Arizona – SB 1070
1. Immediate impact on the tourism industry:
a. Losses from conventions already cancelled: $490M and 2,761 jobs
b. Potential losses from future convention booking declines: $262M and 1,475 jobs
c. Total losses from cancellations and booking declines: $752M and 4,236 jobs
d. Companies paid Arizona convention centers up to $60,000 to break their contracts.xi
Loss of an estimated 150,000 consumers from the Arizona economy at an estimated decline in Gross State Product of $24.4B (9.6%), a loss of 291,000 direct and indirect jobs and resulting loss in tax revenues of $2.1B in tax revenues xii
Farmers are letting planting less acreage and letting some land go fallow not due to market conditions, but labor shortages.
Construction firms are concerned they will not be able to find enough workers to fill job openings, putting projects and contracts at risk.
Prince William County. VA
$14.1M to fund police staffing, training and overtime, evaluation, public education and ADC farmouts directly related to PWC ordinancexiii
$3.2M to fund cameras in all PWC police cruisersxiv
$750,000 per year to County foreclosure rate 3X regional rate and contributed to falling property values
Violent crime increased 10.9% in 2009xv Contributed to extending the recession’s impacts in PWC.
In March of 2011, when it was learned five more SB 1070-related immigration bills were being introduced in the Arizona legislature, 60 Arizona CEOs wrote a letter to former Senator Pearce asking him to refrain from moving the bills. They sent the letter knowing the negative impacts SB1070 and the boycotts had on the state’s convention and tourism, agriculture and construction industries and rightly feared the passage these five bills would further harm Arizona’s economy at the worst possible time. Fortunately, thanks to the letter and a galvanized business community, none of those bills got out of the Senate.
In July of 2011, the leaders of 64 agriculture associations wrote Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas asking him to not hear H.R. 2164 stating it threatened $5B to $9B in annual agriculture production and hundreds of thousands of upstream and downstream jobs. Given the experiences of the other jurisdictions who have had to live with these laws, they were rightly concerned.
Reports and findings like these are the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Study after study on jurisdiction after jurisdiction; year after year, whenever and wherever these laws are tried, the results are always the same and they’re always bad. Mr. Chairman, I am not aware of a single study in the public domain that indicates any one of these jurisdictions have experienced any positive economic impact. Not one.
To be fair, there are studies that show these laws are successful in one aspect: they cause undocumented immigrants to move. Whether they move within the state, out of state, or back home is a difficult question to answer. But what tends to happen to those who remain is we push them deeper into the underground economy, where these workers suddenly become entrepreneurs and open cash businesses, thereby taking even more money out the economy that we would be better off having in it. xvi
This begs the question of if these laws are so good for us, how can the impacts be so universally bad? The answer, Mr. Chairman, is simple: you have bad outcomes because you have bad inputs. The claims used to justify these laws are largely wrong or distorted.
How Can Good Laws Create Bad Results?
You heard in earlier testimony about the supposed $2.5B it costs Arizona each to “educate, medicate and incarcerate” illegal aliens. You heard that 17 percent of the inmates in Arizona’s prisons are illegal aliens. You heard that crime in Arizona is at a 30-year low as a result of SB 1070. You heard that 9,000 Americans are killed each year by illegal aliens and you heard that Arizona is now saving $500M a year by the departure of the children of illegal immigrants from the school systems. The casual listener would hear these statements and be concerned. But the problem is, not a single one of these statements is true. In fact, nearly every statement made to justify SB 1070 has serious factual problems with it, with many being completely unfounded.
Inflating and Misleading Data Is The Norm
The $2.5B cost number comes from a 2004 Federation For American Immigration Reform (FAIR) study that uses data from 1994 to draw their conclusions on the costs of undocumented immigrants to the state.xvii This report’s most significant flaws include using decade old data and purposefully overestimating costs while ignoring revenues. As members of Congress, you know there are two sides to the fiscal ledger (at least we hope you do) and you can’t choose to ignore where the tax dollars come from.
In Arizona, education is funded primarily through sales and property taxes. If there are taxes we know everyone pays it’s sales and property taxes. Just like everyone else, immigrants pay sales taxes when they buy clothes, cars, furniture, tickets, etc. Just like everyone else, they pay property taxes either directly or indirectly through their mortgage or their rent. There is also significant evidence that many of these workers pay income taxes, which flow into the state’s General Fund and other accounts, which pay for other government services such as health care and law enforcement.
Studies by the University of Arizona that looked at revenues and spending in 2004 found that the costs to the state were $1.4B and the revenues were $2.4B, creating an annual net benefit of nearly $1B.xviii Other studies, such as ones by New York’s Fiscal Policy Institutexix and the Cato Institutexx have examined this “they don’t pay their way” argument and found they do. Is it no wonder then that when they, as consumers, are pushed out, the impacts such as those discussed earlier are felt throughout the economy.
The flip side of this coin is asking how much better off we would be if we brought all of these people above board and made them active contributors to our economy. Most economists would and do argue the benefits would be significant. In the case of Arizona the IPC study says it would add 261,000 jobs and increase tax revenues by $1.68B.xxi Our state could sure use those dollars.
Misleading Crime Claims
There is no report available from Arizona Department of Corrections (AZDC) that indicates the “criminal alien” population has ever been 17%.xxii Currently, the “criminal aliens” population makes up just over 13% of all inmates in Arizona prisons. But exaggerating the numbers isn’t the only problem with this statement.
Another problem is its purposeful and misleading use of the term “criminal alien.” As any law enforcement official should know, “criminal aliens” are not just those here illegally. They include visa and green card holders. Permanent legal residents who are in the nation’s prison system are classified as “criminal aliens.” Add on to this the fact no law enforcement agency collects or reports crime statistics according to immigration status., and you’ll see the problem. Therefore, anyone or any statistic that represents “criminal aliens” as synonymous with “illegal immigrants” is over-exaggerating the data in order to make the problem appear worse than it is.
SB1070 Is Not Responsible For Crime Rate Reduction
It has been suggested that SB1070 is the reason for largest drop in crime in Phoenix in 30 years. Unfortunately, there are no data from the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the FBI or anyone else to substantiate or use as a basis for justifying in any manner whatsoever this claim. None.
Crime rates in Arizona and Maricopa County have been dropping for several years and to suggest that the results of the largest decline in 30 years happened since 2010 (it hasn’t) and are because of SB1070 is reckless at worst and misleading at best. To further substantiate this point, the Arizona Department of Corrections FY 2011 annual report listed several reasons for the reduction in the number of prison inmates and the six characters missing from any of those reasons are “S-B-1-0-7-0.”xxiii
Contrary to the rhetoric, crime studies have found that undocumented immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than their domestic counterparts. A 2006 Migration Policy Institute study found that non-citizens are five (5) times less likely to be incarcerated than non-immigrants.xxiv The reason for this is if they are caught, they will be likely, and appropriately, deported. The reality is they commit crimes in percentages equal to their numbers in the population, which any statistician will tell you is what we should expect.
One of the more outlandish claims is 9,000 Americans are murdered each year in the U.S. from unauthorized immigrants. While no disputes its unfortunate occurrence, were this claim to be true, it would mean that according to FBI statistics, undocumented immigrants are committing 63% of the crime in the U.S. There is simply no evidence whatsoever to justify taking this statement seriously. xxv
Immigrations Claim Are Wrong 9-out-of-10 Times
“The greatest threat to democracy is having a public that thinks it is fully informed, but really isn’t very well informed at all.” – Linda Foley
Major news organizations are also finding fault with these claims. Using just two of the major news organizations “Fact Check” services, “PolitiFact” by the Tampa Bay Timesxxvi and “AZ Fact Check’ by the Arizona Republicxxvii, have both found that when the topic turns to immigration, more often than not, false.
PolitiFact Immigration Statements (3/14/12)
I know there are a lot of lawyers in the room and I will presume that many of you have either been to trial or had witnesses swear an oath to tell the truth when they give sworn testimony. Even on TV, we hear that familiar oath spoken by witnesses as they take the stand. I have yet to hear of any instance when a witness is sworn to “Tell the truth, mostly the truth, or half of the truth.” Yet based on the independent analyses of these news organizations, 88.7% of the statements examined by PolitiFact and 91.8% of those checked by AZ Fact Check fail to meet the standard for truth used in our judicial system.
AZ Fact Check (3/14/12)
Bad Data Equals Bad Public Policy
These data help make my final point. The reason every political jurisdiction experiences significant negative impacts from the passage of local, county or state immigration enforcement laws is because elected officials and the public are being fed bad data from which they make bad decisions. As the quote at the beginning of my remarks states, the significant characteristic of the immigration debate is the high ratio of hot air to data. Given what we know from prior experiences, why are we surprised when these policies fail?
We spend way too much time asking the question “Are you for or against SB1070?” We should be asking, “Does SB1070 work and if it does not, then what should we do next?” With all of the proof that “attrition through enforcement” had plenty of negative and unacceptable impacts, it should concern everyone that SB1070 was apparently the best idea anyone could come up with. We should have known better.
Because we are distracted with SB1070, we have not spent enough time looking for alternative solutions. We have not listened to the many informed and insightful idea that have been proposed by business, law enforcement, faith and community leaders. There are very good ideas and you would be amazed how close people from the political right and the left end up when they talk about how to solve the problem-and none of them include amnesty, open borders or anarchy.
On May 1 in the Rayburn Office Building Gold Room, AZEIR, Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy (TxSIP), the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Immigration Forum are sponsoring a conference we’re calling “The Congressional Immigration Solutions Conference. At this event, we will present information and solutions those of us who live, run businesses, conduct research and enforce the laws near the border feel are worthy of Congressional consideration. It will likely be the best three hours you or your staff could spend as you consider how to solve this vexing problem. All of your offices have received invitations.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee for your time and attention. I am prepared to answer any question you may have for me.