Immigration law ‘here to stay’

Published 12:35 am Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On the same day that state newspapers reported an economic analysis estimating Alabama’s new immigration law potentially could cost the state billions, Covington County’s representatives in the statehouse said the controversial bill will only be strengthened when the legislature convenes next week.

Asked about immigration in a town hall meeting at Andalusia City Hall Tuesday night, Rep. Mike Jones said, “The law is not being repealed.”

He was Alabamians should expect some “word changes” that will make the law easier to apply.

Jones said as written, the new law requires anyone who buys a tag to show proof of citizenship.

“There’s no need to repeat that every time,” he said, adding that proof of citizenship is likely needed when one buys a tag the first time, but not for renewals.

Similarly, he said, Americans traveling abroad know they must always have a passport with them. That’s not a federal requirement for foreigners visiting the United States, he said, adding that the immigration law requiring proof of citizenship on demand is not out of the ordinary.

On Tuesday, it was reported that a new analysis by University of Alabama economist Sam Addy, who directs the Center for Business and Economic Research, said the law could cost the state as much as $11 billion in economic output and another $264.5 million in tax revenue.

The costs include direct and indirect job reductions totaling between 70,000 and 140,000, the study says. Also, the law could cause a 1.3 percent to 6.2 percent reduction in the state’s gross domestic product, or between $2.3 billion to $10.8 billion. GDP is the broadest measure of the state’s economic output.

“Economies are demand-driven, so any policy, regulation, law, or action that reduces demand will not contribute to economic development no matter how well-intentioned,” Addy said in a statement.