Reports: Anti-Immigrant Laws Cost Millions

Is Nativist hate even worth it?

By Jamilah King Jan 27, 2011

The GOP’s new state-based anti-immigration crusade is turning out to be quite costly. New reports from the Center for American Progress and the Southern Poverty Law Center show that cities that did manage to pass Nativist laws that were ultimately overturned by the courts lost big.

Back in November, Julianne Hing wrote about how Hazelton, Pennsylvania’s anti-immigrant hate didn’t come cheap: the small town spent more than $2.8 million to defend an ordinance that mandated businesses to investigate the immigration statuses of workers; Farmers Branch, Tex. spent $4 million to defend an ordinance that required landlords to check the immigration statuses of potential renters. Other places like Fremont, Nebraska had to increase property taxes in order to pay legal fees for such bulls, and still others had to scale down their immigration enforcement altogether because because they had gone broke.

Arizona’s passage of SB 1070 will already cost the state an estimated $253 million over the next two to three years due to an ongoing boycott meant to repeal the bill. And while Gov. Jan Brewer’s Arizona Legal Defense Fund had $3.6 million last fall, close to half a million dollars has already been spent in attorney expenses.

"It’s like giving a blank check to the state legislature," Jaime Farrant, policy director for Border Action Network, told New America Media. Farrant has testified against the bill during committee hearings, warning about the costly litigation the state has already engaged in.

So how can these cities and states justify driving their economies into the gutter?

"It is obvious that these communities wouldn’t be trying to implement this sort of ordinances if they weren’t facing substantial costs because of illegal immigration," Ira Mehlman, spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) rationalized to NAM.