Congratulations Governor Brewer, your signature on SB 1070, an anti-immigrant bill which effectively makes all Latinos the target of arrest or interrogation, has now enshrined your legacy with the likes of Governor Evan Mechem, who will be forever remembered for his cancellation of the state’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, attributing high divorce rates to working women, and disparaging references to African American children. And just like Mecham’s bad acts, your endorsement of Arizona’s hate legislation will lead to a mass boycott of your state—AILA has already decided to pull its upcoming fall conference out of Arizona—costing Arizona taxpayers billions in lost revenue.

Your signature on this dreadful bill, which President Obama described today as “misguided”, does nothing to create a functional immigration system, secure the border, nor rid the state of dangerous criminals. Nor does it protect the wages and working conditions of US workers. Instead, it targets day laborers and ordinary citizens whose appearance might raise “reasonable suspicion” of unlawful immigration status in the mind of a police officer. Now that you have signed the bill people in Arizona with foreign sounding accents or who don’t “look American” had better not run into the wrong cop (or even the right cop) because the law mandates they prove they are here legally.

Further, the new law will take money out of the pockets of Arizona taxpayers. The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) reported this week that “if significant numbers of immigrants and Latinos are actually persuaded to leave the state because of this new law, they will take their tax dollars, businesses, and purchasing power with them. The University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy estimates that the total economic output attributable to Arizona’s immigrant workers was $44 billion in 2004, which sustained roughly 400,000 full-time jobs. Furthermore, over 35,000 businesses in Arizona are Latino-owned and had sales and receipts of $4.3 billion and employed 39,363 people in 2002, the last year for which data is available. The Perryman Group estimates that if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and approximately 140,324 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time. Putting economic contributions of this magnitude at risk during a time of recession would not serve Arizona well.” And this loss of revenue to the hard working taxpayers of Arizona does not take into account the cost of defending the inevitable lawsuits that will be brought against the state for civil rights and other violations. According to the IPC, “Arizona would probably face a costly slew of lawsuits on behalf of legal immigrants and native-born Latinos who feel they have been unjustly targeted” leading to millions of dollars in expenditures.

Governor, your signature on SB 1070 demonstrates you are but one more self-serving politician who cynically uses fear mongering and hatred to pander to extremists and run roughshod over the civil liberties we cherish as a nation.  Your endorsement of this hateful bill just adds to the perfect storm of crises that plague our broken immigration system—ICE’s neglect and abuse of immigrant detainees which has caused 107 deaths since 2003, the serious civil rights abuses which afflict the notorious 287(g) program which is administered by ICE and “deputizes” state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration law, and an immigration bureaucracy that thumbs its nose at the needs of American businesses and families. As a nation we must demand that Congress and the Administration put politics aside and get to the hard work of building a safe, orderly, fair, and functional immigration policy designed to protect civil liberties and serve the needs of all Americans. 

Today you had the opportunity to show uncommon political courage and veto SB 1070 in a valiant stand against racism, intolerance, and injustice. Unfortunately you chose to wallow in cowardice.

It is a sad day for Arizona and the nation.