Cost-Benefit Analysis: “Omnibus” Immigration Laws’ Effects on the Economy

A recent cost-benefit study undertaken by a University of Alabama economist indicates Alabama’s crackdown on illegal immigrants will cost the state up to $11 billion.  This study is under fire from the law’s supporters.  The cost-benefit analysis  estimates up to 80,000 jobs were vacated by illegal immigrants fleeing the state after Alabama’s immigration law passed in June 2011, costing Alabama’s economy up to $10.8 billion.  The lost jobs also cost Alabama up to $264.5 million in lost state sales and income taxes, and as much as $93.1 million in lost city and county sales taxes, it said.

On the flip-side, the study found potential economic benefits include saving money used to provide public benefits to illegal immigrants, increased safety for citizens and legal residents, more business, employment, and education opportunities, and ensuring the integrity of various governmental programs and services.

Essentially, the study asks: “Are the benefits of the new immigration law worth the costs?”  As expected, there is no clear answer as of yet.

While a U.S. Court of Appeals blocked Alabama from enforcing several parts of the law, including a provision that permits Alabama to require public schools to determine the legal residency of children upon enrollment, the Court left most of the law untouched.  This is quite the opposite of South Carolina’s and Arizona’s laws.  S.C. and AZ have had the majority of their states’ laws blocked by Courts until such time as the Supreme Court rules on certain Arizona’s provisions.

Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah have passed “omnibus” immigration crackdowns since Arizona blazed the trail in 2010 with a law requiring police to check the status of all those they arrested and suspected of being in the country illegally.

msnbc.com’s Jim Gold and The Associated Press contributed to this story

Miller|Conway, Goose Creek Lawyers, is one of South Carolina’s most active immigration law firms.  If you or a loved one have immigration problems, questions or concerns call Miller|Conway immediately at 843.764.3335 or visit the firm’s immigration pages in English or Espanol.

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