Arizona’s controversial new immigration bill has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, according to a new study.
For months, the law has been accused of promoting racial profiling and arbitrary enforcement, and infringing on human rights, and now critics can add ‘toxic to fragile state economies’ to that list.
The research focused on a very specific section of the hospitality and tourism industry, conference bookings, and did not examine offsetting factors such as lower costs for education or social services as some immigrants have left the state in response to the law (Colorado Independent).
Arizona’s Hotel and Lodging Association publicly reported a combined loss of $15 million in lodging revenue due to meeting cancellations just four months after the bill’s passage, and many feel this is a conservative figure.
The study’s authors estimated that the actual lost lodging revenue from these cancellations is at least three times that amount: $45 million.
When used as a basis for calculating other losses in visitor spending, including average food and beverage, entertainment, in-town transportation, and retail sales this number brings the combined loss of estimated conference attendee spending to a startling $141 million.
In a conference call with reporters Thursday morning, Lea Marquez Peterson, president and CEO of the Tuscon Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that Pima County alone used to generate about a billion dollars a year in business from Mexican tourists, much of which has dried up since the law was enacted.
Marquez Peterson also told reporters she has heard of many Hispanic families who have left the state since the law was enacted, and the effect has been especially devastating for some landlords and owners of rental properties who have lost renters who were afraid to stay in Arizona.
Although there’s more to a state’s economy than just lodging and conference bookings, “The small slice we did look at tells a pretty big story,” said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress.
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