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Note to Alabama Legislators: Anti-Immigrant = Anti-Business = Anti-Economy

by Mahwish Khan on 12/01/2011 at 5:30pm

Honda FactoryIt’s getting even worse in Alabama, folks, and the pain is spreading beyond.

Just a couple of days after a Mercedes Benz executive from Germany was arrested and taken into custody under Alabama’s worst-in-the-country immigration law, HB 56, a Honda employee from Japan was picked up by police and ticketed under the state’s “papers, please” legislation. According to Think Progress

A second foreign auto worker has been charged under HB 56, Alabama’s draconian immigration law. The Japanese Honda employee received a ticket at a routine roadblock police had set up, but he was not taken into custody like a German Mercedes executive arrested almost two weeks ago.

The Honda worker was here on temporary assignment and was issued a ticket by an officer for not having an Alabama state drivers’ license, despite having had his passport and international drivers license — the latter of which has its basis in the United Nations conventions on Road Traffic and Safety. But apparently, Alabama thinks it’s better than international law, which is why the state passed a bill that has created one of the largest humanitarian, economic, and civil rights crises to date.

These “unintended consequences” of the state’s self-inflicted wound are devastating for Alabama’s economic productivity — not to mention the fact that it’s ridiculously embarrassing and damaging. Alabama already has a somewhat racist reputation. Just days after the Mercedes executive was arrested, some Republican leaders in the state — who are mostly responsible for this law — have indicated that the legislature might rewrite portions of HB 56. And it’s no wonder why, with all the big money at stake.

Consider these numbers: Mercedes-Benz made a recent announcement that they plan to expand their plant outside of Tuscaloosa, creating an additional 1,400 jobs and would push the company’s total investment in the state to $4 billion. Honda itself employs 4,000 people at a factory in Talledega County, Alabama, and last week, the company announced it will invest $300 million in the Alabama plant. Markos at Daily Kos reports:

Foreign firms are reconsidering locating in the state, or that the law will increase food prices while tens of millions of dollars of crops rot in the fields.

According to the Tennessean, economists in the two states estimate Georgia’s and Alabama’s economies lost at least $115 million as a result of their anti-immigrant law.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. However, as much of a bind that Alabama is in now, it’s not as if they weren’t warned. Both Georgia and Arizona preceeded Alabama in harsh, anti-immigrant legislation. In fact, Georgia’s peaches were dying long before Alabama’s were. But Alabama had to have a mass deportation plan all of their own, and state legislators pushed forward with their plan. Now they’re paying for it with more unintended consequences.

For future reference, Alabama (and all other states considering similar laws), anti-immigrant = anti-business = anti-economy. That also means fewer jobs, rotting crops and an ugly climate for business development. It’s 8th grade geometry, not rocket science. But we’re not expecting any of the anti-immigrant legislators to know the difference. 

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