by Lisa A. Grimaldi | March 23, 2011

Arizona's Republican-controlled Senate rejected five anti-immigration bills last week, bowing to pressure from the business community. One of the bills proposed that children born in Arizona would be considered citizens only if at least one of their parents was either a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident; four others would have barred illegal immigrants from state universities, prevented illegal immigrants from driving in the state, required legal status checks by schools, and required hospitals to check the legal status of their patients. In a letter to the Legislature signed by 60 chief executives, local employers stated that current harsh immigration measures were having "unintended consequences," including lost revenues, boycotts and lost jobs. "Getting the clear ‘vote no' signal from so many major employers provided political cover to lawmakers whose constituents could demand explanations for votes against the bills," Bill Hart, an analyst for the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, told the Associated Press. "They'll be able to say the top business CEOs in Arizona were very forcefully against it," and that packs some punch as the state continues to deal with economic troubles, he said. The state's first sweeping anti-immigration bill, SB1070, was passed last year; the state has lost an estimated $15 million to $150 million in tourism revenue because of the measure.