Arizona, Immigration, and California’s Economy

By: Dr. Lynn Reaser

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a split ruling on the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law.  It struck down some key features, including one making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek a work permit.  However, it left the provision that allows individuals detained for an infraction to be questioned regarding their immigration status.

The question some would ask is whether this decision could end up boosting California’s economy.

The answer would appear to generally be “no”.  The Supreme Court’s ruling will continue to make illegal workers and residents in Arizona fearful and could cause some of them to come to California.  However, because most California employers loathe to hire undocumented workers, there would be little boost to the economy.  While more capital and labor are always potentially good for an economy, California’s major problem is not primarily a shortage of workers but a shortage of jobs. 

The disparity of state laws, intense uncertainty, and fears surrounding the issue emphasize the pressing need for a national policy on immigration.


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