Most Arizonans have noticed little difference in the service industries where illegal immigrants work, such as landscaping, fast food, construction, car washes, and the hotel industry. Although illegal immigrants have fled the state, prices have barely increased, if at all. Illegal immigrants were already leaving Arizona before SB 1070 was passed, due to previous enforcement efforts led primarily by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Senator Russell Pearce. The federal government estimates that the illegal immigrant population dropped by 18 percent in Arizona from 2008 to 2009. The Mexican government reports that 23,380 Mexicans returned from Arizona to Mexico between June and September of last year, and BBVA Bancomer Research found that as many as 100,000 Latinos left Arizona total during a similar time frame.
Arizona’s prosperity should come as no surprise. Arizona is a red state, and the 2010 Census indicates that people are fleeing the bluest states for more conservative states like Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho and Utah. Even growth in California has finally slowed; its disastrous liberal policies now outweigh its attractiveness. For the first time in history, California has failed to add a new House seat.
Arizona’s aggressive efforts to crack down on illegal immigration reflect majority opinion. A Rasmussen poll last year found that 60% of voters nationwide favor authorizing local police to stop and verify immigration status. Arizona began passing tough laws against illegal immigration in 2004 and its population still increased faster than most states – even as illegal immigrants were fleeing the state.
Critics point to the failure of other states to pass similar laws this year as evidence SB 1070 is not popular. However, they fail to acknowledge that the hesitation is due to uncertainty over what will happen in the courts. Similar bills were proposed in five states last year, but only Georgia was able to get it through the legislature. Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign it.
Arizona is becoming a leader in passing laws popular among conservatives. It passed numerous pro-life laws last year, and became one of the first states to opt out of the federal abortion mandate in Obamacare. Last year, Arizona became the fifth state to ban race and gender preferences. Ward Connerly, who spearheaded Proposition 107 in Arizona and similar initiatives in other states, observed recently, “Arizona seems to be the only sane place these days.”
The economic outlook for Arizona is only getting better. In February, Governor Brewer signed the Arizona Competitiveness Package, which greatly improves the conditions for business. Among other things, it reduces the corporate income tax rate from 6.97% to below 4.9% between 2014 and 2017, dropping Arizona from the 24th most favorable state for businesses to the fifth. Up until this bill, Arizona had the highest corporate income tax rate of any neighboring state except California; in a few years it will be lower than all of them with the exception of Nevada which has no corporate income tax. Intel has already indicated it is making a $5 billion investment in Chandler as a result of this bill.
With all the people moving to Arizona these days, maybe it would have been a good thing if SB 1070 had scared some of them away. Fortunately, Arizona is not destined to become another California. It may become crowded, but its extremely conservative legislature will never adopt the bankrupting, politically correct laws that have ruined California.