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Alabama’s Immigration Law a Self-Inflicted Wound on State’s Economy and Reputation

by Pili Tobar on 10/05/2011 at 12:45pm

alabama fieldAnother day, another series of articles highlighting the devastating effects of Alabama’s immigration law.  This self-inflicted wound is already wreaking havoc on the state’s reputation and economic output.  Witness the following:

Crops Rotting in Fields are of No Concern to Law’s Sponsor: According to the Associated Press, the sponsor of Alabama’s new law “told desperate tomato farmers Monday that he won’t change the law, even though they told him that their crops are rotting in the field and they are at risk of losing their farms. They complained that the new law, which went into effect Thursday, scared off many of their migrant workers at harvest time.”  After Beason said “he would talk to his congressman about the need for a federal temporary worker program that would help the farmers next season,” local farmer Wayne Smith laid out the stakes – “There won’t be no next growing season…Does America know how much this is going to affect them? They’ll find out when they go to the grocery store.  Prices on produce will double.”

The State’s Reputation is Suffering Too: The Anniston Star editorialized today, “Sen. Scott Beason, an architect of Alabama’s mean-spirited illegal immigration law, fashions himself as a mover-and-shaker who rolls up his sleeves and gets things done.  As long as it doesn’t involve getting his hands dirty.  Beason, the Gardendale Republican, met Monday with tomato-growers in Steele. They explained how this law was damaging their businesses by driving away their Hispanic labor.  The senator said, in essence, tough. Deal with it.  One farmer then offered Beason a bucket so he could learn about the hard work that is picking tomatoes.  The senator declined.  What the farmer didn’t realize is that Beason’s hands already were grimy from crafting a vile law that’s placing shame on our beautiful state.”  The Star’s editorial follows on the heels of editorials in some of Alabama’s leading papers, such as The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times, which also point out the law’s real fiscal costs as well as costs to the state’s reputation.  The Huntsville Times asks “What kind of people are we?”

School Children are Directly Harmed by this Egregious Law: As POLITICO reports today, “An alarming number of Hispanic students in Alabama failed to show up at school on Monday, following a federal judge’s ruling last week to uphold parts of the toughest immigration law in the country…The department estimates there is a total of 34,000 Hispanic students across the state, meaning close to 7 out of 100 Hispanic youths skipped school on the first school day of the week.”  The story quotes Cindy Warner, the public relations supervisor for the Shelby County, AL school system, saying that she has witnessed “fear and panic” from parents since a judge upheld most of the law last week – including the provision that requires public schools to demand documentation from parents of all children in K-12 programs.

The restrictionist vision for immigration ‘reform’ is playing out in Alabama today, with all of its ugly effects.  Crops are rotting in the fields, children are afraid to go to school, and the state is reviving memories of its awful civil rights history.  All that, and the Alabama law won’t fix one thing that’s broken about our immigration system.  Is this really the type of country we want to be?

For More Reaction to the Alabama Anti-Immigration Law, Visit the Center for American Progress’ New Web Page.

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