Mitt Romney is trying to convince the American people that he has the business experience to help the economy create jobs. Not only does his actual record at Bain Capital call that into question, but even the policies he supports are crippling business growth in states.
Take Romney’s support of the radically anti-immigrant laws that his immigration adviser Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach helped draft in Arizona and Alabama. In a GOP debate, Romney said laws like these should serve as “a model” for federal immigration laws.
Alabama businesses, however, do not agree. Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law is placing a substantial burden on farms and businesses in the state and inhibiting economic growth. Take a look at a few of the ways that the Alabama law—like the laws Romney supports—are bad for business:
A University of Alabama study found that law will cost the state “at least $2.3 billion” and “not less than 70,000 jobs.” Because most of the demand for Alabama businesses’ goods and services comes from immigrants, their exodus or deportation will “annually cost the state between $56.7 million to $264.5 million tax revenue.”
The loss of immigrant workers has already caused a serious labor shortage, leaving Alabama farmers with crops rotting in the field and with the danger of losing their farms entirely. “We will be lucky to be in business next year,” said one farmer.
The arrest of foreign autoworkers who were legally in the state has spooked international investment in Alabama. The business alliance in Birmingham called for major reforms of the law “to ensure that the momentum remains strong in our competitive economic development efforts.” The mayor of Thomasville, Alabama said that at least one company turned down a visit to the area because of the law.
The CEO of Retirement Systems of Alabama, the pension fund for employees, noted how both workers and businesses will just go to neighboring states: “Why would they come here when we treat them differently than Illinois or Kentucky. It’s a huge problem, because people don’t understand how much we rely upon different cultures of the world to maintain our growth here in Alabama. Alabama needs growth, and we need people to maintain growth.”
In considering the law’s impact on the state’s economy, the Birmingham News—which endorsed Romney but noted strong disagreement with him on his immigration policies—said: “Regardless what one thinks of the national media’s criticism of Alabama’s immigration law, one would have to be in complete denial to believe the brouhaha isn’t creating a difficult climate for state business recruiters. When Alabama competes with other states for new industry, don’t think for a second those competitors aren’t pointing at the state’s immigration law and how intolerant it makes Alabama appear.”