The main purpose of this bill is to reduce the number of illegal and undocumented people in Arizona. While this will benefit some workers and unemployed people looking for jobs, it will also be detrimental to certain businesses that depend on the labor of the illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants basically are at the level of high school dropouts and compete with these people for jobs, so they are competing with less than 10% of the American population for jobs. With all the emphasis on how many jobs are being taken by illegal immigrants, it seems like the number should be much higher. Because the supply of labor would go down with the decrease in the number of illegal immigrants, the wages for unskilled labor would go up, which is better for the legal citizens. Conversely, some businesses that used illegal immigrants now have to pay more for labor, and the higher costs for labor will result in price increases for the goods and services these businesses supply.
Public benefits like welfare and food stamps are most likely not going to be affected by the law or a decrease in the number of immigrants because the illegal immigrants would not be eligible for these benefits anyways. Nevertheless, the cost of health care in emergency rooms and hospitals may end up decreasing. Federal law requires that hospitals provide services to people regardless of their ability to pay, and with the decrease in illegal immigrants, the number of people who use these services without paying taxes will decrease as well. The decrease in the cost for hospitals would mean less federal money being spent on health care and maybe more money being better spent elsewhere.
According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), illegal immigrants cost $19 billion more than the revenue they create. The cost for Arizona alone was estimated to be around $2.7 billion. Not surprisingly, the group that opposes the Arizona Immigration Bill, the Immigration Policy Center, states that FAIR did not take into account other economic benefits and calls the statistics of FAIR highly misleading.
Of course, the controversy over the many differing views of the economic impact of illegal immigrants raises some more questions: Will the law still be in effect 30 years from now? Will businesses follow the law and stop hiring illegal immigrants even though it is more expensive than continuing to hire illegal immigrants? Would legalizing the immigrants solve the economic problems that many say illegal immigrants cause? Where would the blame go if legalizing them doesn’t solve the problems?