Alabama’s “Papers Please” is a Complete Failure

Not surprisingly, the anti-immigration law dubbed a "jobs bill" by its primary proponents may eliminate over 100,000 jobs and create virtually none in an agriculturally dependent state.

According to a new report from Bloomberg's Business Week, a study recently published by the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Alabama, compiled with data from the Pew Research Center and the Alabama Department of Labor, says "Papers Please" anti-immigration law may cost the state of Alabama between$2 to $10 billion per year while it's on the books.

Alabama’s harsh immigration law has stirred controversy since it went into effect in September. The statute, which among other things requires police to question people they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally, has prompted thousands of immigrants to flee the state. The law’s backers believed out-of-work Alabamians would snap up the jobs those immigrants once held.

It hasn’t turned out that way. A new study details the economic impact of harsh immigration laws such as those passed by Alabama and five other states. Published by the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Alabama, it’s the first economic cost-benefit analysis (PDF) of the state’s immigration statute. Dr. Samuel Addy, an economist and director of the Center, found that the law, known as HB 56, will annually shrink Alabama’s economy by at least $2.3 billion and will cost the state not less than 70,000 jobs .

Most of the damage will come from reduced demand for goods and services provided by Alabama businesses patronized by immigrants. Addy projects that 40,000 to 80,000 immigrants will vacate their jobs. (It’s not possible to know exactly how many will leave; his calculation is derived, he says, from a combination of state labor-force data and data from the Pew Center on the States.) Those positions support other jobs, leading to a net employment loss of 70,000 to 140,000. As a result, Addy estimates, the state’s gross domestic product will decline by $2.3 billion to $10.8 billion for every year the law is in effect and will cost $56.7 million to $264.5 million in tax revenue.

This is the part where a lack of critical thinking skills, a lack of foresight, and raw prejudice causes the Republicans to trip over themselves.

They don't grasp the concept that if there's no one left to pick the fruit and the vegetables and the nuts, then the person who was previously employed selling them also loses their job. The person who was previously employed at a local restaurant may lose their job. Corner groceries may go out of business. Farmer's markets vanish. Extraneous staff at large corporations may even be cut when the company suffers a large crop-loss. Hotels may close if they can't find anyone to clean and maintain them.

Even second-hand layoffs have rippling effects. Unemployment claims go up. The tax base shrinks. Medicaid rolls grow. Families stop traveling and thus popular travel destinations go out of business. And this is all beyond their comprehension, because from their perspective these are all lazy people who need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

This is a good example of why the Republican's preferred method for dealing with immigration is a dead end. Because deporting the entire immigrant population would eviscerate the entire national economy. No one would be sparred. Not even "real Americans."

Lets not forget Mitt Romney's closest adviser on immigration is none other than Kris Kobach. Kris Kobach authored Alabama's and Arizona's "Papers Please" immigration laws. Mitt Romney says he is "proud" to have Kobach on the campaign trail.

By the way, can you imagine the explosion of outrage if a democratically-controlled state government suddenly passed legislation that cost their state $2 to $10 billion per year?

  • r_dale

    The whole anti-illegal schtick was just that, a stick to beat on Obama and the Democrats, just like the deficit. Now that both have proven to have lost their power to hurt him, the GOP has dropped them both, leaving a bunch of frothing right-wingers, who got really stirred up by the red herrings, writhing in anger.

  • D_C_Wilson

    Ten bucks says their response will be to announce an even tougher version of the law.

  • sherifffruitfly

    Coulda just gone with the headline “Alabama is a complete failure”, tbph.

  • Nick2000

    Their bet was that the currently unemployed would pick up those jobs. The problem is that those jobs are usually underpaid with no benefit. Illegal immigrants take them because they have no alternative. Of course, some will say that unemployment makes people lazy in the sense that it does not make sense to work for less than what you get in unemployment. This is also why they want to cut unemployment. The trickle effect is a gradual (or abrupt) lowering of the entire economy as you push down the income of a large portion of the population.

    If the magic market was working, farmers would have to raise salaries to attract workers and maybe include benefits. They might have to raise prices to cover this increased cost but it is not clear that this would be any worse than the current “solution” (letting crops rot in the fields).

    • Miranda

      Their bet was that the currently unemployed would pick up those jobs.

      and thus revealing the utter stupidity of those who thought that. Know who had those jobs before “dem dam illeeeguls”? tenant farmers, sharecroppers, African-americans picked up for loitering and other non-crimes by local sherriffs and forced to work on farms, a complete peonage system that was nothing but an extension of slavery – thus those labor costs were $0. That shit didn’t stop in most places until the early 70s (more rural areas its probably STILL going on) – and then came the cheap labor of illegal immigrants and migrant workers.

      But they didn’t think about that. They’re so damn stupid and evil.

  • stacib23

    Woo hoo – a big, fat bite in the ass for Alabama. Next up – Arizona.

    • IrishGrrrl

      AZ has suffered likewise only problem is the universities here are too busy drinking and partying to actually do such a study. There have been some articles about the effect on AZ but the MSM doesn’t report it within the state. If you think Alabama is bad, AZ is completely controlled by Republicans. It’s a nightmare.

      • stacib23

        Don’t I know it – I moved there a couple years ago not realizing it is the Mississippi of the west. I have never seen so many proudly ignorant people in my life.

        • IrishGrrrl

          Oh that’s right! I forgot you live or lived here. I wonder how many other “commenters” on this blog are here in AZ….We should get together for a drink and commiserate about how rare we are. ;)