The Unintended Consequences of Arizona's SB 1070

The good people of Arizona are counting the days. In just a few weeks, SB 1070 kicks in. At that time, every illegal immigrant in the state will be rounded up, processed for deportation, and kicked out.

Well, at least that's the thinking among the anti-immigrant crowd.

However, Arizona citizens might be dismayed to discover that banishing all their undocumented workers will not cause rainbows to magically appear all over the state. Those who supported the law for economic reasons (i.e., "Illegals get a free ride and cost us too much") may receive a particularly unpleasant surprise.

According to the Arizona Republic, implementing the law will strain the state's legal system and overburden the jails. If the same number of illegal immigrants are processed as in previous years, it will run Arizona at least an extra million bucks or so annually to take care of them. Keep in mind that "local police will presumably find more illegal immigrants than before."

This estimate is just the direct cost of SB 1070. The Arizona Republic also reports that foreclosures may increase, because there will be fewer immigrants renting apartments and buying houses. That will not be good news for the state's stagnant housing market.

Also keep in mind that many studies have pointed out that illegal immigrants often add more to the economy than they take. Adding these factors to the equation makes the new law seem fiscally insane.

However, maybe Arizona will still come out ahead. For starters, they may not be on the hook for all those processing and deportation fees after all. According to USA Today, SB 1070 "may be prompting a mass dispersion of Hispanics -- both legal and illegal -- from the state."

Apparently, many Latinos aren't in a big hurry to see if they get pulled over in Phoenix for looking suspiciously brown. So they're taking off for someplace else right now.

Supporters of the law must be ecstatic at his news, anecdotal as it is, because it proves that all one has to do to get rid of a loathed ethnic group is pass a draconian law targeting them. Then they'll flee.

Yes, it moves Arizona closer to the day when the state will consist entirely of old conservatives (mostly white), and rattlesnakes. I guess that's the way they want it.

But wait, because there's another kooky development on the horizon.

According to Newsweek, all this screaming and yelling is unnecessary, because the whole fistfight over illegal immigration will soon resolve itself.

This is due to the fact that the birth rate in Mexico is declining rapidly. Along with the decrease in illegal immigration (and it has gone down, no matter what you've heard), it means that illegal immigration in the future "won't be nearly as overwhelming as the deluge of the 1990s and early 2000s." In fact, Gordon Hanson, an economics professor, says in the article that "I wouldn't be surprised if Arizona starts pleading for Mexican workers who can help them in their retirement homes."

And that's the final twist in this ugly tale.

There's a perverse irony to the idea that states such as Arizona will, years from now, be clamoring for young Latinos to immigrate. At that point, there will be a lot of "What SB 1070? We were just kidding." It's sort of like that scene in the otherwise shitty movie The Day After Tomorrow, where Americans rush into Mexico to escape the killer cold.

So Arizona, and the rest of us, can relax about immigration... at least until we get old and there are not enough young people (Hispanic or otherwise) to fund our Social Security and clean up after us.

But it's best not to dwell on that one too much.