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An immigrant exodus could hurt your bottom line.

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This story appears in the November 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Fed up with what they see as federal inaction on illegal immigration, some cities and counties are taking the issue into their own hands. The sheriff in Butler County, Ohio, has threatened to arrest illegal immigrants. Hazelton, Pennsylvania, is revoking business licenses of companies that hire illegal immigrants and fining landlords who rent to them. What's getting lost, some say, is a discussion of illegal immigrants' buying power.

"When politicians say they're going to send back the immigrants, they don't realize that these 11 million to 20 million people are consumers," says Jorge Pinto, a professor of international business at Pace University in New York City. These restrictions have even legal immigrants lying low--and spending less with local businesses.

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