October 24th, 2011
Immigration Laws Are Affecting Foreign Investments

There’s more fallout to report from state-level immigration laws.  It’s important because states like Arizona, Georgia and Alabama have turned into laboratories of consequences. In the weeks and months since those state’s approved their controversial laws there’s been an exodus of Latinos, and a long list of expected reactions that have fallen short. The most recent negative effect was brought to light by a group of legal experts who gathered for a University of Georgia law school symposium. Online Athens reports:

“We literally have companies saying ‘I don’t want to do business in this  state,’ ” Atlanta immigration lawyer Sharon Cook Poorak said.

These laws were supposed to rid the state’s of criminals; open job opportunities for the unemployed citizens; and alleviate the burdens to social service budgets.

News Taco has reported on the growing list of the laws consequences – both intended and unintended:

  • children are staying home from school (in Alabama at a cost of $4500.00 per child).
  • crops are rotting in the fields for lack of a harvest workforce.
  • businesses are closing their doors.
  • more apartments are vacant.
  • law enforcement officers are unsure how to enforce the law.
  • Latino residents are distrusting of police.
  • Latinos are reluctant go to the hospital.
  • American citizens have been unwilling to take the available farm work jobs.
  • Latino parents are securing powers of attorney for their citizens children, in case of deportation.
Most recently there have been reports of Latino kids in Alabama being bullied by non-Latino children. But deplorable as all that may be, nothing rattles politicians’ nerves more than businesses (read here funders) complaining about laws.

“Georgia is really shooting themselves in the foot right now, to pass these laws that hurt us economically,” Poorak said.

She noted that the state’s unemployment rate is still above 10 percent since the law took effect in July, so jobs held by illegal immigrants aren’t being filled by Americans.

The law in Georgia isn’t only scaring away undocumented workers, it’s also repelling foreign investors and millionaires who want to do business in the United States. They will still come to invest their fortunes, but not to Georgia. It makes you wonder if people in Alabama are listening.

And in the middle of this lawyers’ symposium came a dose of truth and context:

“We’ve built an economy on the backs of these folks, and no one wants to treat them like second-class citizens,” (Toombs County Solicitor Paul Threlkeld) said.

We’ll see how long these states’ economies can keep this up.

[Photo by Rhys Asplundh]

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