Two Mexican universities – the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí – have ended their student-exchange programs with the University of Arizona, citing concerns that their students will be harassed in the wake of a new immigration law in the state, according to an article in today’s Arizona Republic. This raises the question: Is Arizona’s immigration law providing a competitive advantage and an economic opportunity for other states that want to attract foreign students and exchange programs? Other states are looking to Arizona’s experiences with the new law to inform their policy decisions as the nation struggles under a broken immigration system and a still-struggling economy that has had a significant impact on U.S. higher education.

As political leaders look to the perceived gains of looking “tough” on illegal immigration by proposing a patchwork of state-by-state immigration laws, it is key that they stay focused on the economic and social impacts of continuing down this misguided path.

While it will take time to settle questions about whether the Arizona law violates the U.S. constitution, the decisions being made in the court of public opinion here and abroad are leading to an immediate negative economic and social impact for Arizona.