Workers throughout the state are telling their state legislators "Wisconsin is not Arizona."

The Wisconsin state Legislature is about to pass two anti-immigrant policies that will impact the economic and social well-being of all Wisconsinites. It, however, will target and disproportionally hurt immigrant Badger families un poquito mas. These laws include AB 450 and SB 533. One bans sanctuary policies, and the other bans local governments from issuing official alternate ID’s to unauthorized immigrants. We’ve seen that economic and social outcomes from other states that have passed the most draconian laws have not been good. I will save you the time and give you the punchline: anti-immigrants laws disrupt businesses and the well-being of families and creates mistrust among educators, health providers, and law enforcement.

As discussed by many social scientists and translational health researchers, anti-immigrant laws are creating hostile environments which make immigrants feel like they are “being hunted” by law enforcement producing intense feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression. The economic consequences of passing anti-immigrant laws include:

Oklahoma HB 1804 (2007): Was one of the first states that passed harsh anti-immigrant laws and evidence has shown that just after its enactment over 50,000 people left. This exodus caused serious economic shocks to the local economy. This is was tough for local farmers and businesses as the incurred $1.8 billion in economic losses, was just before the recession. As stated by Republican Legislator Harry Coates “You really have to work hard at it to destroy our state’s economy, but we found a way. We ran off the workforce.”

Arizona SB 1070: This 2010 law has said to cost the local economy lost $141 million, including $45 million in hotel and lodging cancellations and $96 million in lost commercial revenue, according to the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center.

Alabama HB 56: This 2011 law is the harshest as it attacks every aspect of life as an immigrant. Economist Samuel Addy estimated that this law has resulted in in 70,000 to 140,000 lost jobs in Alabama, which amount to $1.2 to $5.8 billion in lost earnings. An additional $57 to $264 million would be lost in state income and sales tax collections.

Immigrant and Latino Health
Using national data from the Robert W. Johnson Center for Health Policy, I have been working to understand the implications of immigration policies like AB 450 and SB 533 on the health and well-being of immigrant and Latino families. Our findings show that Latinos living in states that have unfavorable anti-immigration laws are more likely to report poor health and problems with mental health. In particular, anti-immigrant climates and deportations are impacting children’s mental health and social service utilization.

Anti-Immigrant Climate and Children’s Health Outcomes: In collaboration with Dr. Viridiana L. Benitez, a developmental psychologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we find that Latino adults who personally know someone that has been detained/deported are 32 percent likely to report that their child has been referred or diagnosed with a learning disorder. This research highlights that anti-immigrant climates increase family stress and family hardship and are taking a toll on the physical and mental health of immigrants and their families.

Mistrust Among Already Vulnerable Populations: Both AB 450 and SB 533 further isolate vulnerable Wisconsin families. Using national data from the Robert W. Johnson Center for Health Policy, results show that regardless of nativity, Latinos avoid engaging in certain behaviors due to not wanting to be bothered or asked about their citizenship status. This includes 13 percent who avoid contacting police to report a crime, and nearly 1 out of 10 Latino adults who avoid visiting a doctor or clinic. The unintended consequences of immigration enforcement can also impact public health outreach. For example, in the Flint, Michigan, water emergency, the National Public Radio, published a story in where over 1,000 undocumented immigrants were not receiving clean water and supplies due to lack of a driver’s license and fear of being deported given the recent immigrant raids and rumors surrounding round-ups. Given undocumented parents’ fear of deportation, they ultimately put their lives and their American children’s health at risk of lead contamination (R.I.P. Eric Rivera).

The economic and social consequences of anti-immigrant laws are bad for business, educational institutions, families, and public health. Policymakers should take the evidence of other states into consideration prior to attacking hard-working families. As a day without Latinos is planned for Feb. 18, with school walk-outs, economic boycotts, and a protest planned at the capital, I urge policymakers to become informed on what has happened in other states and not support laws that disrupt economic expansion and family well-being.