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The immediate cost:

[Arizona] has lost between $6 million and $10 million in projected business revenue, with 23 group hotel bookings--from small meetings to large conventions--having been canceled in protest since the stroke of Brewer's pen, according to the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association.

And why? An Republican Arizona state legislator, Sylvia Allen, has penned the following letter explaining the reasons why, now making its way in the email forward circuit:

I'm an Arizona state senator. I want to explain SB1070, Arizona's immigration bill, which I voted for and which was just signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

Rancher Rob Krentz was shot to death on his ranch over a month ago and the shooter fled into Mexico. His family suspects a drug smuggler is responsible. I participated in a state Senate hearing two weeks ago on the border violence that is, and has been, sweeping our border communities for years. From those hearings, we learned that:

- The people who live within 60 to 80 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border have been terrorized by the Mexican drug cartels and human smugglers. One rancher testified that 300 to 1,200 people cross his ranch every day, vandalizing his property, stealing his vehicles, cutting down his fences and leaving trash. He testified that in the last two years, he has found 17 bodies and, alarmingly, several copies of the Quran.

- Another rancher testified that drugs are brought across his ranch in a military-style operation, with guards armed to the teeth. A point man with a machine gun goes in front, a half-mile behind are the fully armed guards, a half-mile behind them are the drugs, and behind the drugs are more guards. This was not the only rancher we heard who talked about the drug trains.

- One man told of two border crossers who came on his property, one of them shot in the back and the other in the arm by drug runners who forced them to carry drugs and then shot them. They frequently hear gunfire at night and are afraid to leave their ranch for fear of what the smugglers will do to it.

There is more ranting about the federal government's failures to secure the border, but those bullet points are his rationale for the law.

Note -- the rancher Krentz was shot by a white guy. And regardless, even if he was Mexican, the evidence points to drug traffickers being behind the murder. And lo and behold, the rest of his bullet points all talk about drug trafficking.

Yet what does SB 1070 have to do with drug trafficking? Absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch. Forcing a dish washer in Flagstaff to present his papers because he's insufficiently white does nothing to stop drug traffickers. Harassing migrant workers picking crops in a field ain't gonna make a dent with murderous drug gangs. And if a drug dealer gets pulled over, and turns out to be in the country illegally, then he or she gets shipped back home whether SB 1070 is on the books or not.

Ultimately, this hateful law does nothing to stem the worst problems of the border -- problems that are real and deadly to many, not just Arizona border residents, but desperate immigrants crossing the border looking for honest work and a better life.

That border needs to be secured. Undocumented immigrants in this country need to be given a path to citizenship. Consider reforming the ridiculous drug laws that have helped create this problem in the first place (and not just the border, but the narco state now bordering us to the south).

But yeah, don't hold your breath on drug reform. If Congress is afraid to act on comprehensive immigration reform, an issue that has 81 percent approval from voters, then we really can't expect them to tackle something more controversial like drug prohibition.

As for Arizona Republicans, they're thrown their temper tantrum, and passed a ridiculous law that does zero to solve the problem they specifically cite as impetus for the law. Good for them. I hope they celebrate their victory. But it's certainly a pyrrhic one.

Because the economic toll this law will take on Arizona is just starting to be tallied, and for what? For a law that does nothing to solve Arizona's serious border problem.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 10, 2010 at 10:56 AM PDT.

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