Old wounds among Republicans in Arizona are being re-opened by the presidential race. Six years ago, tough immigration laws in the state resulted in boycotts and protests, which cost Arizona around $100 million in revenue. Over the weekend, the campaigns of Republican presidential candidate nominees Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz have maintained their call for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States to be deported.
Many people in the state’s business community are unhappy about this rhetoric, as it brings back bad memories of the 2010 saga where a law actually forced police to check up on the citizenship status of anyone they suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. In 2011, Arizona Republicans were urged to back away from the issue by 40 business leaders after a nationwide boycott that cost them $100 million from the loss of conventions, contracts and tourists.
The controversial law, known as SB 1070, was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2012, insisting that immigration was a matter for the federal government, but the debate over immigration has not gone away. Arizona is home to around 300,000 undocumented immigrants, the ninth biggest number in the whole of the United States according to the November 2014 report by the Pew Research Center.
The president of Arizona’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Glenn Hamer, says that immigrants play a crucial role in the economy of the state and Arizona businesses want the next president to offer a path to US citizenship for undocumented immigrants.