Saturday, March 19, 2011

Arizona Senate Wises Up: Pearce's Latest Round Of Immigrant-bashing Bills Summarily Tossed

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

People tried to warn Russell Pearce, president of the Arizona Senate and the father of SB1070, that it might not be a good idea to push hard on yet another round of immigrant-bashing legislation while Arizona's economy continued to suffer and groan from the weight of his previous "landmark". And there were plenty of warning signs that Arizonans were waking up to the cold reality of what they had done to themselves.

But of course, Pearce being the extremist nutcase that he is, there was no persuading him to turn back. Which produced yesterday's stark repudiation by his fellow Republicans in the Senate:
The state Senate voted down a package of birthright-citizenship bills, with Republicans split over the measures and Democrats opposed.

Four other significant Senate immigration measures also failed. Those bills would have banned illegal immigrants from state universities, made it a crime for illegal immigrants to drive a vehicle in Arizona, required school districts to check the legal status of students, and required hospitals to check the legal status of patients.
The impetus for the bills' defeat, as it happens, came from the Arizona business community, whose leaders penned a letter to the Senate warning them that the bills were a horrendous idea:
A coalition of Arizona business groups delivered a letter to the Arizona State Senate Tuesday saying it would be unwise for the Legislature to pass additional immigration legislation, despite lack of action on the federal level.

Sixty CEOs - from a wide swath of industries and including heavyweights such as Doug Parker, Gerrit van Huisstede and Linda Hunt - signed the letter as legislators mull a new slate of immigration bills. Last year’s passage of Senate Bill 1070 created a firestorm of criticism and boycotts against the state. The CEO’s point to its “unintended consequences.”
The letter's reasoning was quite clear:
Arizona’s lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration. But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur. Last year, boycotts were called against our state’s business community, adversely impacting our already-struggling economy and costing us jobs. Arizona-based businesses saw contracts cancelled or were turned away from bidding. “Sales outside of the state declined. Even a business which merely had ‘Arizona’ in its name felt the effects of the boycotts, compelling them to launch an educational campaign about their company’s roots in Brooklyn. It is an undeniable fact that each of our companies and our employees were impacted by the boycotts and the coincident negative image.

“Tourism, one of our state’s largest industries and employment centers, also suffered from negative perceptions after the passage of SB 1070. The fact Gov. Brewer directed $250,000 to repairing Arizona’s reputation strongly suggests these efforts – whether fair or unfair - are harmful to our image.
Pearce's main gopher, State Sen. Ron Gould, was typically petulant about the reversal:
On Twitter he provided the names of all the Republicans who voted against the bills and told his followers to “contact them."

Following the session he said that too many Republicans talk tough on the campaign trail but don’t deliver when it comes to votes.
He was especially pissy toward the business community:
Senator Gould was asked if that letter perhaps played a role to which he replied, “Well there’s some people who are bought and paid for by the Chamber of Commerce.”
When asked if he will try to introduce similar legislation next session he said, “Maybe we will put everybody through the same misery one more time.”
You'll note in the video above that the reporter talks to one of the signees -- a local small businessman. Unsurprisingly, he was inundated with hate mail and threatening phone calls.
Kos has more on the larger immigration picture around the nation.

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