Friday, May 14, 2010

Unintended Consequences of Arizona SB 1070

There has been plenty of inks spilled on SB 1070. However, there is a negative consequent scenario that few have talked of: the flight of working illegal immigrants.

There is plenty of evidence that illegal immigrants have been fleeing Arizona in the wake of SB 1070. MSNBC reported that a hotel on the Mexican border, catering as a immigration way-station, has seen a plunge in customers. Media is abuzz with anecdotes of people looking to move out of Arizona. The ones with family certainly do not want the daily hassle and disruption from police scrutiny. The gray market trade (day laboring, hospitality industry, general service industries) will see a big plunge as these working immigrants flee the area for more permissive environments.

Therefore, the ones who stay are likely those working in the black market trade (trafficking in general). They were already operating in a non-premissive environment facing police scrutiny. This law will not substantially change their economics. They may lose some cover as their compatriots thin out, but they will still have a market to serve. SB 1070 does not improve the security of the border itself, so traffickers still have their routes open.

With the flight of the working immigrants, the illegal community will appear more violent. By taking away the peaceful people and activities, the violence ratio per illegal immigrant will rise drastically. More of the arrests will be gang and violence related.

It is likely that the short-term flare up in violence will burn out shortly afterwards. Gangs will consolidate their control and drive out competitors, bringing order to the streets. Violent activities will bring in additional police scrutiny, which will also remove the offenders. Violence is bad for business, afterall.

So be prepared for more headlines on traffickers in Arizona over this next year.

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