By Peter O'Dowd, Fronteras Desk
Reaction to the Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration law continued Tuesday, with politicians, law-enforcement authorities and immigration advocates weighing in.
The state of Arizona has already spent nearly $3 million defending the law, an investment that was worthwhile, said Gov. Jan Brewer. She called the court’s ruling a victory for Arizona in its struggles with illegal immigration.
"We cannot forget that we are here today because the federal government failed the American people regarding immigration policy, has failed to protect its citizens, has failed to protect the rule of law and failed to secure our borders," Brewer said.
The court struck down three provisions of the law and upheld one part, which supporters call the heart of SB 1070, requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect is in the country illegally.
"I consider it a win," said Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever. His county borders Mexico.
Dever said the court’s decision won’t really change the way his deputies patrol, because they’ve been turning illegal immigrants over to federal authorities for decades. But Dever said the ruling will be a deterrent for people to cross illegally in the first place.
"One of the purposes of it was to deliver a very strong message to people coming into Arizona that this is not the place you want to come. So we anticipate reduced traffic across the border," Dever said.
So what does that mean for the state’s economy? Pablo Alvarado, who heads the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, put it this way: "It only makes it more difficult."
Since 2009, it’s estimated that as many as 200,000 illegal immigrants left Arizona on their own. Economists and others have said it was a combination of the state’s weak job market, the political climate and other factors that spurred that departure.
Alvarado said workers in low-skilled industries -- like construction and agriculture -- will go further underground.
"The question is how that employer is going to replace that worker, and this has huge impacts on the economy of Arizona," Alvarado said.
Not everyone in these industries expect a mass exodus of workers. Tim Dunn, a Yuma farmer, said most of the people who planned on leaving have already done so. Dunn, whogrows broccoli and wheat, said he barely has enough seasonal workers to get by.
"The longer we debate whether or not the state can enforce the law or the federal government can enforce the law, we’re not focusing on the visa reform and labor reform we need. We’re just focusing on who has the right to do the enforcement," Dunn said.
He said he hopes the country moves quickly on labor and visa reform. Because once the economy picks up again, he’s going to need a lot more workers in his fields.
Fronteras Desk is a collaborative project of public broadcasting entities in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, including Arizona Public Media.