Arizona’s now infamous SB1070, the tough anti-immigration law, was to be only the start for Senate President Russell Pearce. Upon passage of this legislation, he set about to get a series of bills so extreme that they were rejected by even his conservative legislative colleagues, the very same people who had just passed SB1070.
The leaders of the business community revolted. These are the “job creators” who understand what Pearce’s single-minded obsession with immigration is doing to the ability of the state to attract jobs. And not the $10-an-hour back office jobs that will all end up overseas anyway, but the $100,000-a-year high-tech primary industry jobs that enrich our entire community.
While their language was artful and diplomatic, it was not difficult to see what they were saying. The leaders of 60 of the major employers in the state were saying: “enough!”
Think all of this is not being noticed nationally and internationally? Think again. One New York Times article described the actions as “an admission that the state’s tough stance had resulted in a chilling of the normally robust tourism and convention industry.”
The reaction of the business community was not surprising given what I had already heard privately. Heads of major corporations that wanted to get key suppliers to move to Arizona were being told things like:
“My key employees don’t want to move there” or “I have senior executives who are Hispanic; I can’t ask them to move to that environment.”
We are being devastated economically. And the much-heralded tourism and convention business, though significant, is the least of it. We are losing opportunities to compete for the high-tech, high-end industries that everyone wants.
We are all being hurt by this single-minded obsession with immigration. One house in six in Arizona is empty. And your house is worth half of what it was three years ago. These facts are connected. Yes, housing is down nationally, but not nearly as much as here.
— Michael J. O’Neil, a Tempe-based pollster, is also chairman of Citizens for a Sane Arizona, an independent expenditure group formed to oppose Russell Pearce, who is facing a Nov. 8 recall election.