Is SB 1070 a success? Pearce says yes, U-Haul says no

Is SB 1070 a success? Pearce says yes, U-Haul says no

CREATED Apr 20, 2011

Reporter: Steve Nuñez
Web Producer: Layla Tang

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – Nearly one year after it was signed into law, is SB 1070 a success?  It depends on who you ask.  With no real way to track the exact number of illegal immigrants who are coming to or leaving Arizona, it seems nearly impossible to know what effect the new law is having on illegal immigration in state.  However, State Senator Russell Pearce claimed this week he has proof that the controversial illegal immigration legislation is doing its job in Arizona.

Pearce, who authored SB 1070, points to a rise in U-Haul rentals as evidence that Arizona's tough immigration law is forcing illegal immigrants to leave the state.  But does Pearce's claim hold true?

9 On Your Side caught up with Pearce two months ago when he attended a press conference held by Governor Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne, as they announced their counterclaim against the feds over SB1070.  Pearce adamantly disputed all claims by the feds the border is the safest it's ever been.

"I'm tired of the drive-by statements, the misinformation, the political rhetoric that's dishonest," Pearce told KGUN9 News reporter Steve Nuñez in February.   Pearce also stood firm, calling SB 1070 a success even though the federal court blocked key parts requiring officers to ask for papers and arrest those without them during routine stops.

Again, Pearce told Nuñez, "We're winning."

"Despite the injunction?" Nuñez then asked.

"The injunction only injuncts four parts of 1070, six parts are in play," Pearce responded.

Now that SB 1070 is approaching its one year anniversary, Senator Pearce has claimed that illegal immigrants are leaving Arizona "in caravans" and that U-Haul is busier than ever with one-way trips leaving the state.  9 On Your Side called U-Haul to check on Pearce's claim.

However, the truck rental company confirmed to KGUN9 News, since SB 1070 became law, it's helped 0.5% more people move into than out of Arizona in 2010.  These same numbers spiked to double digits, 13.2% to be exact, during the first three months of 2011.  Therefore, according to U-Haul, its numbers prove Pearce's claim may not be entirely accurate after all.

Nuñez asked Joanne Fried, a U-Haul spokesperson, if company workers verify the immigration status of all customers.

"Not at all," Fried replied.  "We don't do that we just make sure that they have a valid driver's license.  That's what the requirement is to rent a vehicle and we don't ask people why they're moving."

Nuñez then asked if the company tracks ethnicity.

"No we do not," said Fried.  "I have no idea where they obtained their information from."

9 On Your Side also learned five of the top 11 states where U-Haul shows people moved to in the last year considered legislation modeled after SB 1070. Those states include Texas, Colorado, Utah, Missouri, and Florida.  

U-haul does admit its numbers are state-wide and it's possible for an individual dealer to conduct its own tracking.  However, U-Haul's rental policy requires customer's use a valid Arizona driver's license. In Arizona, it's illegal for an illegal immigrant to get one.

KGUN9 News placed several calls to Pearce for a response, to the findings but only got his voice mail.