Senate President Mike Haridopolos has opposed efforts by business groups to soften some of the enforcement provisions in one of the Senate’s immigration bills.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that in the wake of last year’s controversial Senate Bill 1070, business groups have fueled a political backlash against tougher immigration-enforcement measures in Arizona:

“I don’t believe that anyone, including myself, foresaw the national and international reaction” to April’s bill, said Glenn Hamer, chief executive of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who said estimates of lost tourism business ranged from $15 million to $150 million. “Now we have that experience under our belts. We know these measures can cause economic damage; it’s just a matter of degree.”

A letter signed by 60 state business leaders this week blamed last year’s bill for boycotts, canceled contracts, declining sales and other economic setbacks.

“Arizona’s lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration,” the letter said. “But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur.”

While Mr. Hamer said he doubted the bills could have been defeated on Thursday without broad-based business opposition, he cautioned that support for tighter restrictions on immigration remained strong in a number of quarters. But, he added, “Our hope is that these types of measures have crested and we could spend our time on efforts that could rebuild our economy.”

Haridopolos is mostly at odds with the business community over E-Verify provisions, but opponents of the crackdown measures see the economic effects as one of their most potent arguments. Subhash Kateel of the Florida Immigrant Coaltion recently told a South Florida radio audience that Florida’s economic fortunes are closely tied to those of its Latin-American community.

“Even a very tiny portion of the bills that they implemented in Arizona would have a disastrous effect on our economy,” he said.

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