Anti-Immigrant Measures Cost Thousands

There is new evidence that Arizona’s model for immigration control, created by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is both ineffective and irresponsible.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that Arizona police agencies have spent hundreds of thousands training officers to enforce the state’s 2010 anti-immigration law, SB1070.  The law provides draconian power to local law enforcement resulting in racial profiling of anyone who appears not to “belong.”  It requires everyone to carry papers proving their right to be in Arizona including teenagers, tourists, and businessmen. In fact, it is a misdemeanor to lack proper paperwork. It also forces police to determine a person’s immigration status if they form a “reasonable suspicion.”

The Chronicle reports that, “the spokesman for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in the days after the questioning requirement took effect that he didn’t know why there would be any additional costs in enforcing the measure.”  However, now the total cost for training is at $640,000 and rising.  This is getting to be one expensive law!

Experts estimate that Arizona has already invested over $1 million to defend the bill in court, and SB1070 has cost Arizona $141 million in state revenue.  This is an outrageous sum to lose in tough economic times, when states (including Arizona) are struggling to meet their budgets.

You would think that with this data so readily available, other states would wise up. You would be wrong. Demonstrating an astonishing lack of common and fiscal sense, police departments from other states are now paying for their leadership to attend anti-immigrant trainings in Arizona.

Just last month 60 law enforcements officials from across the country flew to Arizona for a Border School and Tour, sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.  An Undersheriff from Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon, where I grew up, was one of the officials who attended.  Clearly Multnomah County has digressed a long way.  Back in the 1990s, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Noelle was a board member of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, our region’s version of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The Coalition worked with individuals, governments, and organizations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to keep hate out of communities. Sheriff Noelle was dedicated to supporting those opposing organized bigotry.

There was a time when Multnomah County and the Pacific Northwest were seen as models in the fight against hate.  Now it’s our own Sheriff’s department being trained by what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a hate group.  Gee, times sure have changed and not for the better.