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As the New York Times reports today, Latino residents of Alabama have already started to flee the state, with potentially devastating effects for businesses and civic life.
Writes the Times:
Critics of the law, particularly farmers, contractors and home builders, say the measure has already been devastating, leaving rotting crops in fields and critical shortages of labor. They say that even fully documented Hispanic workers are leaving, an assessment that seems to be borne out in interviews here. The legal status of family members is often mixed — children are often American-born citizens — but the decision whether to stay rests on the weakest link.
The Alabama law is Arizona on steroids. The difference is that Arizona has been held up by the courts and Alabama has gone into effect. Its implementation is creating a climate of fear that has schoolchildren in tears, parents terrified, and businesses reeling. It is causing a Latino exodus from the state. Is this what Republicans want? Isn’t this what leading Republicans mean when they argue for a policy they call ‘attrition through enforcement?’ What say the leading Republican presidential candidates? Is the Alabama law a model for the rest of the nation?
Last week’s ruling on the Alabama law comes at a time when the Republican field is, once again, mishandling the immigration issue by running to the right in the primary and potentially destroying their chances with Latino voters in the general election as a result.
As Republican strategist Ana Navarro told POLITICO today:
We have a unique opportunity to capitalize on a broken promise to the Latino community, and instead of capitalizing on that, we are fighting over who is tougher and meaner and stricter when it comes to immigration. We’re completely missing the boat.
Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director here at America’s Voice:
Since the border is more secure than ever, the time has come for the Republican candidates to state, clearly and explicitly, what they would do as President of the United States about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country today. At the Reagan Library debate last month, Noticiero Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart prodded the candidates to answer this question, leading to lots of rhetorical fumbling and not a lot of straight answers. With Alabama creating a civil rights and humanitarian crisis, the moment of truth is at hand: do those seeking the nation’s highest office support the mass expulsion of undocumented immigrants, or do they support a path to legal status and citizenship? Do they support Alabama’s way or Ronald Reagan’s way?