Immigration reform has always been a touchy subject in this country, but even by that standard, the immigration law that Arizona passed last month has stirred an incredible amount of outrage.
The law in question attempts to crack down on Arizona’s immigration problem by allowing police to force anyone they find suspicious to produce their alien registration documents. While critics argue this essentially creates a police state where cops will undoubtedly engage in a kind of racial profiling, supporters claim that this will help reduce the number of illegal immigrants living and working in the state.
The new law has been panned by officials in both parties, including President Obama and Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security Chief under President Bush. Dozens of protests have been planned in cities across the country, several lawsuits have been filed against the state, some college students have started to withdraw from Arizona’s universities and the state's own basketball team is protesting the decision.
Arizona is also feeling some serious financial backlash from the bill. Their tourism industry may suffer in the near future as Americans have reportedly canceled trips to the state, which is particularly bad since the industry is still ailing from the recession. Mexico has also issued a travel advisory to their citizens warning them that they may be “bothered and questioned” if they set foot in the state. On top of that, some Americans are boycotting products from Arizona, including Arizona Iced Tea (which is actually produced in New York).
Yet, given the backlash, we were curious to find out who, if anyone, may actually benefit from the passage of this bill.
Big Oil Businesses
Pretty much the only thing more controversial than the immigration bill right now is the oil business, thanks to the awful Gulf Coast oil spill. But it turns out one may help push up the other. Several U.S. senators were on the verge of introducing a comprehensive bipartisan climate change bill, but once Arizona passed their immigration reform bill, Washington put those efforts on the backburner and are now urgently working on a federal overhaul of immigration law. For the time being, that means big oil companies have one less thing to worry about.
It's also possible that this new bill could indirectly benefit gay couples. According to USA Today, the federal immigration reform bill that is currently being drafted in Washington may include language that allows “same-sex couples the same family-reunification status as traditional married couples.” Of course, the bill is a long way from being finalized and approved, but members of the gay and lesbian community have already applauded what they see as a sign of increased tolerance toward homosexual couples.
The bill is designed to benefit Arizona’s legal workers first and foremost by limiting competition for jobs from illegal immigrants, but in the immediate future, many employees may actually be worse off as Arizona’s businesses suffer for the reasons we mentioned earlier. That said, at least one Arizonan does stand to benefit from the bill, and that’s Governor Jan Brewer. While the law has been unpopular in many parts of the country, it remains favorable among Arizonans and recent polls have found all the attention around the issue has actually given Brewer a boost in approval ratings.
Several midwestern states like Colorado are hoping that the unpopularity of Arizona’s immigration law may deflect some business their way. According to The Denver Post, many companies are looking to relocate conventions that were scheduled to be held in Arizona in the next few months. And then of course there are all the tourists who no longer want to travel to the state, and may instead opt to travel to neighboring states.
One Chicago congressman argued on CBS News that this law may actually benefit drug dealers and other criminals in Arizona because it will shatter the “trust between the police and the public.” Admittedly, this claim seems to be a bit of a stretch, but there is a little bit of credibility there. Will citizens be as willing to contact authorities if they have been harassed by the police for citizenship credentials? Or what if an illegal but otherwise law abiding resident sees a crime? Will he or she now be less likely to report it to the authorities?
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